November 17, 2020 Early Arms & Militaria: Age of Exploration, Empire & Revolution
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 11/17/2020
John Hancock (1737-1793) as President of the 2nd Continental Congress, partially-printed, document signed; Philadelphia, 30 November 1775, on watermarked, laid paper, folio sheet, 9-3/4" x 15-1/8", float-mounted in a matted and UV-glazed frame. An extremely rare Congressional commission for an officer in the Continental Marines, appointing "John Welsh Esqr....Captain of Marines… in the Service of the Thirteen United Colonies of North-America, fitted out for the defense of America Liberty, and for repelling every hostile Invasion thereof...". The document is boldly signed by Hancock, with the same flourish as applied to that on the Declaration of Independence the following year, and countersigned by Charles Thomson as Secretary. The pre-Independence period, military commission document as printed for Congress is extremely rare in its own right, but this particular signed example is nearly unique, being one of only two surviving Continental Marine officer appointments known (the other, that of Captain Samuel Nicholas, is in the National Museum of the U.S. Marine Corps) and as such, is the only Continental Marine commission currently in private hands and available for acquisition by an advanced collector or institution. Perhaps of even greater significance is that its recipient, John Welsh, is one of the three Marine captains commissioned by Congress in 1775—this document signed only 2 days after the Marine Corps was established--and the first Marine officer to die in combat. Little is known of Welsh prior to the Revolutionary War—born in Ireland, he is said to have come to America to join in the cause of liberty. Welsh and his company participated in the Continental Navy’s successful raid on New Providence in the Bahamas in 1776. He was then assigned as senior Marine officer aboard the Continental ship Cabot, then transferred to the frigate Alfred and went into captivity following her capture by two Royal Navy ships on 9 March 1778. Welsh was sent to Forton Prison in England, from which he escaped with one of his lieutenants a few months later, making his way to France and freedom. Returning to America in spring 1779, he was ordered to the frigate Warren on May 18th, which was to become the flagship of Commodore Dudley Saltonstall’s combined fleet during the disastrous Penobscot Expedition. The Marines of the fleet took Banks’ Island on 26 July 1779, driving off the British troops and capturing 4 cannons with no casualties. Two days later, in a similar operation against the Bagaduce Peninsula, 200 Continental and state marines under Welsh were landed under heavy enemy fire, and while leading an attack on the strongest British position, Welsh and eight of his Continental Marines were killed and his lieutenant mortally wounded; the American assault failed with a total of more than 100 killed or wounded. CONDITION: Ink and print strong, paper with light toning and flattened folds; mends to the junction of some folds and in-kind filling of a small loss (approx. 1" x 1/2" area) on the upper right margin, recently done by a professional paper conservator. JLK

Item Dimensions: 24 x 18 - 1/2"
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $10,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $22,800.00
Estimate: $20,000 - $40,000
Number Bids: 11
Auction closed on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.
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