$160k for the reminiscences of John Adams

There is currently an intriguing letter signed by John Adams as he was just about to take on his role as first US minister to Britain, waiting to sell at Heritage auctions.

However, a much later and perhaps even more fascinating piece sold recently as part of the $8.6m Floyd E Risvold collection in New York.

The letter is written in reply to his old colleague and friend Elbridge Gerry, who as it turned out had only a matter of months to live. Gerry had asked him what the national mood had been like when he was sworn in, and Adams replied with a four page letter.

President John Adams autograph signed letter
John Adams autographed letter

Adams reminds him that the French Revolution 'a gigantic Infant begotten by Folly' had been in full motion, and that Washington '...dreaded England and feared that France was too much embarrassed at home to assist him'.

For his own part, Adams recalled that certain parties had labelled him as being a 'Monarchist, [...] an Englishman and an Antigallican' (Adams had returned from his role as minister to Britain shortly before becoming Vice-President) whilst Jefferson and others were jealous of the closeness between himself and Washington.

The document is hugely valuable as a historical source, and is also wittily written and in good condition, explaining why it beat even its highest estimate of $150,000 to sell for $160,000.

Collectors of Presidential autographs may be interested to know that a document signed by George Washington is currently available.


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