Lot 72

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826): Sea Letter for the Schooner Fanny & Catherine

Estimate: $4,000 - $6,000
Sold for

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$0 $25
$200 $50
$500 $100
$3,000 $250
$5,000 $500
$10,000 $1,000
$30,000 $2,500
$100,000 $5,000

Signed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, June 7, 1804.

33 x 28 1/2 in. (Framed).

Note on the reverse from Bauman Rare Books: The printed sea letter for the schooner Fanny & Catherine, signed by Jefferson and countersigned by Secretary of State James Madison, and finished in hand by Jedediah Huntington, New London Collector of Customs. New London, Connecticut, June 7, 1804. original broadside, measuring 20 by 16 inches, matted and framed with contemporary line and stipple engraved portraits of both Jefferson and Madison.

Original sea letter issued to Commander Chauncey Barnard, vetting the Fanny & Catherine for departure from New London to Barbados, "laden with livestock provisions," boldly signed by Jefferson and Madison.

The "sea letter," printed with the same text in four columns in French, Spanish, English and Dutch, was issued to those ships that sailed the Atlantic as a guarantee of United States protection of both the vessel and her owners in foreign waters. Every American-owned ship was required to keep its letter as part of her papers. The dates shown on sea letters are no those on which the President and Secretary of State signed them, but rather the dates that the Collector of Customs entered information for a particular ship upon leaving port. Blank forms were signed in advance by the President and Secretary of State and sent to the Collectors, who would then fill in the details as occasions arose. New London boasts the oldest continuously operating customhouse in the United States, where this sea letter was issued. Original paper seal intact. Generally quite clean, six fold lines, one mildly affecting the bottom of Jefferson's large signature.


Paper is creased, minor staining and wear. 1 1/2 in tape repair to top edge of document. Handsomely framed.Not withstanding this report or any discussion concerning condition of a lot, all lots are offered and sold "as is" in accordance with our conditions of sale.