George Washington Signed Mountain Road Lottery Ticket 1768 Virginia - The “King” of American Lottery Tickets
GEORGE WASHINGTON (1732-1799). 1st President of the United States (April 30, 1789 to March 4, 1797); a Founding Father of the United States, serving as the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War; presided over the 1787 Constitutional Convention held at Philadelphia.
1768-Dated Colonial Era, Partially-Printed Document Signed, “G(eorge) Washington” on a “Mountain Road Lottery” Ticket, Choice Extremely Fine. This excessively rare example of a Mountain Road Lottery Ticket, measuring about 1.5” tall x 4.5” long with the signature of the Father of our Country as signer and proprietor. This Colonial Virginia Lottery Ticket states that the possessor shall be entitled, “to whatever PRIZE may happen to be drawn against its Number in the Mountain Road Lottery.” This Ticket is well centered, slightly trimmed at the top printed divider line, as are virtually all known examples and tipped heavier paper along the outer edge for protection and support to display. The quality of George Washington’s signature is sharp and clear, carefully written in medium tan ink and it measures a full 1.75” across. The overall visual appearance is fresh and very clean, the “G. Washington” signature is excellent and clear. Ticket No. 348. This original, historic piece of Washingtonia is a Key item and is considered the “King” of American Lottery Tickets. A wonderful, prize in the collecting of Colonial era American lottery tickets and George Washington autographs.
The Mountain Road Lottery was described by the Virginia Gazette as "A Scheme of a Lottery for raising the sum of nine hundred pounds, to make a road over the mountain to the warm and hot springs in Augusta county." The Mountain Road Lottery offered 62 cash awards, including a 1,000 pound first prize. Tickets were sold for 20 shillings, with "15 percent to be deducted from the Prizes."
The last example of this important lottery ticket we offered was in our EAHA, Inc. Auction of June 8, 2002, Lot 205, graded Very Fine (silked on both sides), and sold for $13,800. nearly a decade ago. Since that sale, collector demand has grown significantly for both the George Washington signed and John Hancock signed lottery tickets, as well as interest for collecting the entire field in general. A remarkable American lottery ticket and a significant highlight to any collection.
The Mountain Road Lottery was a project conceived in 1767 by George Washington, Captain Thomas Bullitt, and others. Captain Bullitt had served with Washington in the Virginia Regiment during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). The idea was to build a road through the Alleghany Mountains in Virginia and to construct a resort in the area now known as The Homestead, Hot Springs, Virginia.
George Washington was involved in many lotteries throughout his life. The Mountain Road Lottery lottery failed, in part due to there being numerous other lotteries at the time, and that the King then banned all lotteries in 1769. However, Captain Bullitt eventually went ahead with the plan, and the resort became a reality without the aid of the lottery or George Washington. The lottery tickets which were signed by George Washington became collector's items. There are about 25 known tickets in various libraries, etc. The latest price of one being sold was for $13,500 in 2006.
Mountain Road Lottery Ticket 1768.George Washington's diaries contain several entries concerning Captain Bullitt and the sale and distribution of the Warm Springs Mountain Road Lottery tickets. One notable credit entry dated January 1, 1770, remarks "Tickets that it is presumed will not be sold - but are not yet returned."
Advertisements for the lottery were placed in The Virginia Gazette that offered 6,000 tickets to be sold at one pound each. 85% of the money was to be paid out in the form of prizes, and the remainder kept for the project. Unlike today's lotteries, people would not accept the lottery sponsors making large profits.
On February 21, 1771, Captain Bullitt placed a notice in the Virginia Gazette that notified Washington and others that the "Hot Springs, Augusta County" project agreement between them was rescinded. The road was never built with this lottery endeavor. However, the Mountain Road was built in 1772 when the Virginia legislature voted a sum of 300 pounds for the purpose of "clearing a safe and good road from the Warm Springs in Augusta County to Jennings Gap." That road is now part of Virginia Routes 629 and 39 from Jennings Gap into Warm Springs Valley, site of the famous Homestead Hotel. Bullett went on alone and later built the road and spa in Hot Springs.
The general idea behind the project was to build a resort similar to that with hot springs in Bath, England. Augusta County in Virginia eventually was renamed Bath County, and is the home to a magnificent resort and numerous hot springs.
The historical reference to the Mountain Road Lottery as being a project to head west by Washington is incorrect.
This was a commercial lottery venture that never got off the ground. When Eric Bender (Tickets To Fortune, 1938) made the incorrect statement that George Washington's Mountain Road Lottery "was to build a road over the Cumberland Mountains," he had no idea that his unsubstantiated conclusion would find its way into the Encyclopedia Brittancia, and thus become an erroneous reference source for lottery historians.