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George Washington commission document as general and commander in chief of the United Colonies Army, estimated at $150,000-$250,000 at Potter & Potter.

Most important George Washington document in private hands showcased at Potter & Potter April 18

CHICAGO — Potter & Potter president Gabe Fajuri calls consignor Eric Caren the “Babe Ruth” of the historic document collecting world, and rightly so. Caren’s collection returns to market for its ninth edition on Thursday, April 18 with a trove of George Washington-related ephemera, including the most important Washington document not owned by an institution or the federal government. The complete catalog is now available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

The sale’s top-estimated lot is George Washington’s commission as Commander In Chief. Written by and signed in the hand of Charles Thomson, secretary of the Continental Congress, it’s dated June 19, 1775, and appoints Washington as General and Commander in Chief of the Army of the United Colonies. It reads:

To George Washington Esquire. We reposing especial trust and confidence in your patriotism, conduct and fidelity Do by these presents constitute and appoint you to be general and commander in chief of the army of the United Colonies and of all the forces raised or to be raised by them and of all others who shall voluntarily offer their service and join the said army for the defence of American Liberty and for repelling every hostile invasion thereof…” Thomson signed the document as secretary and on behalf of “John Hancock, President.”

Provenance traces it to General Washington’s acquaintance Dr. George Whitfield Avery, who hung it in his office for many years, and to Richard M. Ahlstrom, who purchased the document in 1969 at an antique show in Ohio. It is estimated at $150,000-$250,000.

Caren noted, “I have owned literally millions of historical documents in my six decades of collecting, and this is, by far, the most important piece of all of them.”

In all, the sale features 21 Washington-related items with a wide range of estimates. They include: