Sold-Out Alexander Hamilton Sale Boosts Sotheby’s $19.4 Million Americana Week
Americana is alive and well.
Bolstered a white glove, sold-out sale of Alexander Hamilton letters and manuscripts totaling $2.65 million, Sotheby’s registered its biggest Americana Week since 2007, with the house bringing in $19.4 million.
Across six sales between January 18 and 21, 1,000 lots sold, with an overall sell-through rate of 80.4 percent.
The week kicked off with the January 18 Hamilton sale, featuring archival letters and manuscripts from the founding father who inspired the hit Broadway musical Hamilton: An American Musical. David Korins, the set designer for the Tony-winning play, assisted in organizing the Americana exhibition that proceeded the sale, and several cast members, including Javier Muñoz, who currently plays the title role, stopped by the auction house to take a peek. All 77 lots on offer found buyers.
The top lot, a previously unrecorded autograph draft of “Pacificus Essay No. VI,” set a record for a manuscript by Hamilton, selling for $262,500. Because no manuscripts from Hamilton’s famous Federalist Papers are known to exist, this may be, according to Sotheby’s, the most important handwritten political document by the former secretary of the treasury.
Among the other documents on offer was the earliest extant love letter from Hamilton to his future wife, Elizabeth “Eliza” Schuyler, dating to 1780. “Adieu my charmer,” he wrote in closing; “take care of your self and love your Hamilton as well as he does you. God bless you.” Their romance is a major part of the Hamilton musical.
“Visitors could point to a document and say, ‘Oh there’s a song about that.’ I think that shows how closely the show follows history,” Selby Kiffer, Sotheby’s international senior specialist for books and manuscripts told CNN.
The rest of the week featured the sale of distinguished private collections, including those of George S. Parker II, Iris Schwartz, Ralph and Suzanne Katz, E. Newbold and Margaret Du Pont Smith, and Joan Oestreich Kend.
Highlights included a $636,500 Chippendale tea table made by Thomas Affleck circa 1779 for Philadelphia Quaker and rum merchant Levi Hollingsworth and a 1901 Tiffany & Co. Viking Style Vase made for the Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo, which sold for more than five times its pre-sale estimate at $175,000.
“The spirited bidding ensued resoundingly confirmed that Americana is alive and well,” said Erik Gronning, head of American furniture & decorative arts at Sotheby’s, in a statement.
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