Landmark Books in All Fields
ItemID: #126237
Cost: $12,800.00

Ship's papers - Signed

James Madison


ADAMS, John. Printed sea letter signed. Newport: : January 12, 1799. Section of a printed document, finished by hand, measuring 5-1/2 by 9 inches; handsomely framed with portrait, entire piece measures 22 by 27 inches. $12,800.

Portion of an original set of ship's papers, signed by President John Adams and Secretary of State Timothy Pickering in 1799.

"Sea letters," usually printed with the same text in multiple languages, were 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 not 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. This letter was signed for William Ellery, Jr., deputy collector of customs at the port of Newport; Ellery's father, also William Ellery, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. With text visible in both English and Dutch.

Tears along fold lines, not affecting Adams' signature. Very handsomely framed with a portrait of Adams.

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