'Lost Dauphin' Louis Charles's rare autograph finds its way to $30,000 at sale

As expected, bidders in Spink Smythe's numismatic collectors' sale were impressed with some of the historical autographs on offer, and two in particular stood out:

Firstly, there was a letter signed by Thomas Jefferson, distributing money at the time of the American Revolution.

The rare and historic document is autographed by Thomas Jefferson as Governor of Virginia, and G.R. Clark twice as commander of Continental forces in the northwestern frontier.

The two pages request the treasurer of Virginia to please pay Monsr. Rago Bovay the sum of four hundred and forty four dollars and four fifths, it being for flour etc, furnished for the troops stationed in the Illinois Country.

Thomas Jefferson correspondence manuscript autograph
Thomas Jefferson manuscript correspondence with autograph

Famed collector Floyd Risvold's label appears on the front pastedown. The manuscript sold for $11,500.

It's been a good week for documents from this period as Christie's sold a portion of George Washington's undelivered inaugural address for $182,000 and another set of papers relating to a work by Jefferson for $218,500.

Documents written and/or signed by the founding fathers are of course greatly coveted, which is why we are so confident in offering this lottery ticket signed by George Washington with our unique 120% guarantee.

The top lot, however, was not American but French: the end of the Royal line in France. It was a set of calligraphy exercises written and signed by Prince Louis-Charles of France, known as the 'Lost Dauphin'.

Lost Dauphin Prince Louis Charles XVII autograph
'Lost Dauphin' Prince Louis Charles XVII's autograph

The tragic prince became the prisoner of revolutionaries at the age of just eight, forced to sign claims of his mother Marie Antoinette's guilt and almost certainly killed in custody (despite more romantic legends of his escape).

Regarded as a once in a lifetime opportunity to gain this incredibly rare signature, the exercises sold for $30,000.

By a fascinating coincidence, we have also acquired an example of a rare autograph belonging to a lost prince who never made it out of childhood, this being the 'Lost Prince' John.

Signed photograph of lost prince john
Signed photograph of the 'Lost Prince' John
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Prince John suffered from severe epileptic seizures and was hidden from the public eye as a result. He died at the age of just 13, but his memory was revived by a multi-award winning drama by Stephen Poliakoff screened on the BBC in 2003.

This has made his autograph and other memorabilia more coveted since.

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