Sale of George Washington letter could set record

Wed Dec 2, 2009 9:47am EST
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By Basil Katz

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A signed four-page letter from George Washington to his nephew is expected to break sales records in one of two manuscript auctions at Christie's in New York this week.

The letter, which will be sold on Friday, could fetch up to $2.5 million dollars which would smash the previous record of $834,500 set in 2002 for a Washington document.

The letter by the first president of the United States was written from Mount Vernon, Washington's home for more than 45 years, on November 9, 1787.

"It is far and away the most significant and the richest in terms of content," of Washington's letters, said Chris Coover, an expert at Christies.

This is the first time the letter has been publicly exhibited, although it has already been reproduced.

In the letter, Washington shared his firm support for the ratification of the American Constitution.

"The letter is one of the most explicit and strongly worded letters regarding the Constitution," said Coover, adding that the candor and passion of the letter help to explain the high price tag.

As part of the same auction, Christie's will sell a very rare manuscript of author Vladimir Nabokov's last, unfinished and unpublished novel, "The Original Laura".   Continued...

<p>George Washington's signature (bottom right) marks a letter to his nephew dated 1787, which will be auctioned on Friday for an expected $1.5-million to $2.5-million by Christie's in New York, December 1, 2009. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly</p>