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  • Thomas Jefferson stands taller than the Eiffel tower at Bonhams' auction
  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • JeffersonstandstallerThomas

Thomas Jefferson stands taller than the Eiffel tower at Bonhams' auction

Bonhams is offering a sale of Fine Books, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs next week comprising 334 lots, generally of a very high calibre.

Some of the highlights include translations of the New Testament from the 16th and 17th centuries, and a printed book of the Magna Carta from c1560.

However, the three main highlights of the sale, one from each section are in different leagues:

Eiffel Tower

From the photography section, there is an album containing 111 photographs, (albumen prints) recording the Exposition Universelle in Paris - a World Fair celebrating the 100th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille.

The Exposition offered the debut of the nearly completed Eiffel tower, and the album is on offer for $8,000-12,000.

From the Books section, a copy of Braun and Hogenberg's popular atlas Civitates orbis terrarium shows nearly 300 city views in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Eurasia. This particular copy of the wonderfully colourful books is dated 1570.

Civitates Orbits Terrarum
A city view from Civitates Orbits Terrarum

Top lot, however is almost guaranteed to be a classic piece of Americana dating all the way back to 1790: a census signed by Mount Rushmore's own Thomas Jefferson.

To be precise it is a first edition of the first United States census, one of only a very limited number signed on the final page by then Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution called for called for the first census "within three years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States".

Jefferson Signed census
Thomas Jefferson signed census

A detailed census was necessary to provide strong government, and the first was a sign of America developing as an independent nation. This museum-grade piece is expected to attract bids of $80,000-120,000 in the sale, which will be held in Los Angeles (and New York) on October 4.


  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • JeffersonstandstallerThomas