A lengthy 1799 handwritten letter that discusses George Washington's involvement with a construction project in "Federal City" - a term Washington used for the nation's capital even after its naming in his honour in 1791 - has performed well in an auction that closed January 16.
Signed "Go. Washington," the former president's missive sold for $26,326 as the top-selling item of the sale. It demonstrates a failed investment for Washington.
Dated September 1799, just three months before he died, the letter is addressed to William Thornton Esquire, who oversaw the work of George Blagden, the leading building contractor for Washington DC. Despite the newly-founded city's reputation as a bad investment, landowners had convinced George Washington that rental housing could be profitable for congressional members.
Enclosed with the letter was a "check on the Bank of Alexandria" for an advance of $1,000, which was to be given to George Blagden. The letter was sold in fine condition, aside from a mailing fold that passes through one letter on the signature and a professional repair to paper loss.
Also selling well was a handwritten partial manuscript of Theodore Roosevelt's The Winning of the West, a four-volume narrative of the "conquest" of the American west.
Attached to a 1900 limited edition hardback copy of the book, the manuscript reads in part: "On the frozen ground the weapons clattered as the soldiers fell… while the steady singing of the Indian bullets never ceased."
Roosevelt describes his Native American opponents as ferocious and skilled warriors, while illustrating the American soldiers' inadequacy in capturing the western frontier. Published just one year before he became president, it sold for $11,693.
See all of the presidential memorabilia for sale in our online store. Our latest addition is a signed proclamation from President Harry Truman, which was issued the day after the German surrender in the second world war and is inscribed to his cousin.