It seems a long time since we first reported that Christie's was intending to sell a Sheffield-plated silver wine cooler, given by George Washington to Alexander Hamilton in 1797, but the sale has just taken place in the past couple of hours.
The four-bottle wine cooler is an exceptionally well documented historical object, symbolising the famous partnership between Washington and Hamilton in the early days of the republic. Never before seen by the public, it is being sold by direct descendants of Alexander Hamilton.
The four-bottle wine cooler is one of four commissioned by George Washington in 1789 to be used for entertaining after dinner.
Detailed correspondence between Washington and his emissary, Governor Morris, who was tasked with procuring objects to outfit the President's House, describes the great level of forethought Washington devoted to creating an appropriate style for the new country.
In response to Washington's admonition to "avoid extravagance," Morris wrote to Washington in 1790, "I think it of very great importance to fix the Taste of our Country properly, and I think Your Example will go very far in that respect. It is therefore my Wish that every Thing about you should be substantially good and majestically plain; made to endure."
Demonstrating this intent to be majestically plain, the elegant wine cooler is simply decorated with lion's mask and ring handles. Christie's was delighted to be offering it.
Jeanne Sloane, Deputy Chairman and Head of Silver, commented "Christie's is honored to have been entrusted with this piece of American material history—the only three-dimensional object known to connect Washington with Hamilton, his most important collaborator.
"We were thrilled to locate Washington's original letter of presentation dated August 21, 1797, in the Library of Congress."
Bidders were equally impressed, and the elegant cooler's final price of $782,500 easily beat its $400,000-600,000 listing.
Memorabilia associated with America's first president is highly coveted. We've sold documents relating to the President before and are now offering a fine example of Washington's autograph on a lottery ticket. So confident are we of its ongoing value that we're offering it with our unique 120% guarantee.