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Sale of George Washington Letter Could Set Record
George Washington's signature (bottom right) marks a letter to his nephew dated 1787, which will be auctioned on Friday for an expected $1.5-million to $2.5-million by Christie's in New York, December 1, 2009. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly.

By: Basil Katz

NEW YORK, NY (REUTERS).- A signed four-page letter from George Washington to his nephew is expected to break sales records in one of two manuscript auctions at Christie's in New York this week.

The letter, which will be sold on Friday, could fetch up to $2.5 million dollars which would smash the previous record of $834,500 set in 2002 for a Washington document.

The letter by the first president of the United States was written from Mount Vernon, Washington's home for more than 45 years, on November 9, 1787.

"It is far and away the most significant and the richest in terms of content," of Washington's letters, said Chris Coover, an expert at Christies.

This is the first time the letter has been publicly exhibited, although it has already been reproduced.

In the letter, Washington shared his firm support for the ratification of the American Constitution.

"The letter is one of the most explicit and strongly worded letters regarding the Constitution," said Coover, adding that the candor and passion of the letter help to explain the high price tag.

As part of the same auction, Christie's will sell a very rare manuscript of author Vladimir Nabokov's last, unfinished and unpublished novel, "The Original Laura".

Written from a hospital in Switzerland and saved from destruction by Nabokov's wife and son, the manuscript is written in pencil on 138 index cards.

The manuscript, which could sell for as much as $600,000, is the first manuscript by Nabokov that has been put up for auction.

At a separate sale also scheduled for December 4th, Christie's will sell other works by famous authors such as Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Dickens.

A third auction slated for December 9th will feature rare books from travelers and explorers, including an 1845 volume of George Caitlin photographs of Native Americans, estimated to sell for up to $300,000.


Christie's | George Washington | Chris Coover |


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