“I expect to go to New Haven next week to inspect armes made by Ely Whitney for Unkel Sam 500.” This casual remark by Robert Orr in an 1803 letter to his son is the earliest-known written use of the term “Uncle Sam” to personify the American federal government. Orr was the master armorer at the time and was therefore responsible for armory inspections such as the one in New Haven run by Eli Whitney. Reference to Eli Whitney and his contract with the U.S. Government lend the letter historical significance beyond its simple age. The original copy of this letter is currently up for sale in the Printed & Manuscript Americana event, offered by Swann Auction Galleries.
Other items of historical significance in this sale include a photograph album documenting the 1899 Peary Relief Expedition, a letter announcing the cessation of hostilities with Great Britain written by Robert R. Livingston, an early French printing of the Declaration of Independence, and more. Some of the manuscript items in the auction include a first edition of the Noah Webster translation of the Bible, a document used by Senators for the hearing on “Project MKUltra, the CIA’s Program of Research in Behavioral Modification,” and a Treasury report featuring the first formal federal budget (by Alexander Hamilton). View any of these lots and register to bid on Swann Auction Galleries’ website.
Lot Categories:Collectibles (343)
# of Lots:343
Price Range:$120 - $35,000
Interesting lots include:
|Item Image||Item Name||Estimate|
|William Heartsill, Fourteen Hundred and 91 Days, in the Confederate Army|| Estimate: |
|Solomon Henry Jackson, editor, The Jew; being a Defence of Judaism against all Adversaries|| Estimate: |
|Frederick Catherwood, Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan|| Estimate: |
|Photograph album from the 1899 Peary Relief Expedition|| Estimate: |
|Robert Orr. Letter about an arms inspection for Eli Whitney--with the earliest known reference to Uncle Sam|| Estimate: |