PHILADELPHIA — Freeman’s spring auction season is led by an American Furniture, Folk and Decorative Arts auction scheduled for Tuesday, May 3, and a Books and Manuscripts auction taking place Wednesday, May 4. From manuscripts and documents to silver, furniture, art and design objects, these two sales bring the best of early American culture, politics and artistic production to market. Absentee and Internet live bidding for both sales will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Freeman’s American Furniture, Folk and Decorative Arts sale on May 3 brings collectors a fine selection of early Americana with impressive provenance, led by Nicolino Calyo’s View of the Schuylkill River & Fairmount Park Water Works, a sweeping oil-on-canvas view of 19th-century Philadelphia. It carries an estimate of $100,000-$150,000. An embroidered and painted Plan of the City of Washington offers a different kind of cityscape: a map of Washington, D.C. worked with silk threads, watercolor and ink on a silk ground by Grace Turner Cleaver. The work is estimated at $30,000-$50,000.
Fine furniture offerings include a Chippendale carved mahogany chest-on-chest, estimated at $20,000-$30,000, and the Pemberton-Morris-Lloyd Chippendale carved and figured mahogany sideboard table, estimated at $40,000-$60,000. Several 18th-century silver pieces showcase early American craftsmanship: John Coney’s 1700 silver caudle cup, estimated at $10,000-$15,000, and John Dixwell’s 1715 silver two-handled cup, estimated at $10,000-$20,000, both early Boston metalworking highlights.
The undoubted highlight of Freeman’s May 4 Books and Manuscripts auction is a John Hancock letter that announced the Declaration of Independence to the state of Georgia on July 8, 1776. One of only five such letters known to exist, and one of only two still in private hands, the document is extraordinarily rare — perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for serious collectors of early American history. Its estimate is $2 million-$3 million.
Alongside this extraordinary document are several significant documents that will delight Americana collectors, including the earliest available Connecticut printing of the United States Constitution, estimated at $18,000-$24,000; a contemporary manuscript of Benjamin Franklin, John Jay and John Adams’s peace journals during their negotiations with Great Britain to end the American Revolution, estimated at $50,000-$80,000; and two Alexander Hamilton items: a letter to his beloved wife Eliza, which carries an estimate of $12,000-$18,000, and a scarce first edition of the infamous Reynolds Pamphlet that revealed Hamilton’s affair and subsequent blackmail. It is estimated at $6,000-$9,000.
View top auction results on LiveAuctioneers here: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/pages/recent-auction-sales/