George Washington’s 1775 Commission to be Commander-in-Chief of the army in the American Revolution leads off Potter & Potter’s “How History Unfolds on Paper” single-owner auction on April 18. 2024. The event is Part 9 of selections from the collection from collector Eric C. Caren.

From Washington to Watergate, this Presidential election year makes a fitting time for the offerings, which represent something for virtually every budget. Most of the lots do not have a reserve set, increasing the chance for bargains. The 561 lots of printed, manuscript, and photographic originals are online and ready for bidding, which ends live on April 18 in Chicago.

In many cases, it’s stunning that the items in this auction even exist, let alone are in private hands. The Washington commissioning document is a prime example.

“It is an incredibly historical item, indeed. Many people did not believe it was real when I bought it, but I knew all along that it was, because although not signed by Hancock; it is legally ‘attested to’ and signed by Charles Thomson, who was Secretary of The Continental Congress in 1775. That makes it an official original. Thomson’s signature is almost singularly unique and easily recognized,” Caren told Scoop.

“Other experts concur with me that Thomson wrote out the entire document! There is one other original at The Library of Congress, also on vellum... with virtually exact verbiage, centering, spacing, and sizing of the period exquisite handwriting,” he said.

Also among the items up for bid is an enormous paper collage portrait of Abraham Lincoln (54” x 36”), made solely from damaged and period originals from Caren’s Collection by Jeffrey Adam Meszaros (est. $10,000-$15,000).

Additional highlights include a Laws of New York book owned and signed by Alexander Hamilton, printed in 1762 (est. $8,000-$12,000), a unique 1876 newspaper that reports on the front page that both R.B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden, have somehow, both been elected President (est. $400-800), a Richmond imprint from 1827 with the only known contemporary reference to the illegitimate children that Thomas Jefferson had with his slave, Sally Hemings (est. $1,500-$2,500), and the only extant first book printing of Jefferson’s Message on Completion of Lewis and Clark Expedition (est. $1,500-2,500).

A first printing of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (est. $4,000-$6,000), a newly discovered first printing of “With Malice towards None...” Lincoln’s fabled second Inaugural Address (est. $4,000-$8,000), a Black-Bordered broadside on Death of George Washington (est.  $2,000-$3,000), and an important Custer’s Last Stand Manuscript (est. $2,000-$4,000) are also up for bid.

One of the first announcements that United Colonies had declared Independence on July 2, 1776 (est. $4,000-$6,000), an invitation to dine with General Lafayette (est. $300-$500), The Confederate Telegram that Started The Civil War (est. $3,000-$5,000), a large fragment of the Fall of Richmond Confederate Flag (est. $1,000-$2,000), and Edison Labs own Patent for “The Electric Light” (est. $2,000-$3,000) are also included in the offerings.

“This hobby has been very good to me for 60 of my 64 years, and I am happy to continually share part of my one-million-item archive with others,” Caren said.

To view all the items in this auction, visit the auction’s website.

Potter & Potter is located at 5001 W. Belmont Avenue, Chicago, IL 60641 and can be reached at (773) 472-1442 or info@potterauctions.com.