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
Noah Parker, autograph document signed, n.d. (but probably October 1777), docketed in the hand of John Langdon on recto, and later endorsed and signed by Parker at Portsmouth on 31 July 1778, acknowledging receipt of later payment from Langdon of 282 pounds and 8 shillings "Lawful money in full for the above Accot." for his smith-work for the fitting out of the famous Continental ship “Ranger” for her first cruise in 1777. Folio sheet of laid paper bearing crown watermark.

Noah Parker (1734-1787) was well educated but practiced the trades of blacksmith and whitesmith, in which he excelled. Nathaniel Adams, in his Annals of Portsmouth (1825) stated that Parker “made himself well acquainted with every branch of the [smithing] business, especially with those parts, which required most ingenuity to execute.” He resided at a house on the corner of Daniel and Penhallow Streets during the Revolutionary War era. Parker was a very religious man with a large family and his home became known as “Noah’s Ark.” He was later an early adherent of the tenets of Universalism and became the first Universalist minister in Portsmouth in 1784, at which time he and his family relocated to the house on Market Street that bears his name today.

Founding Father John Langdon (1741-1819) served as a member of the 2nd Continental Congress during 1775-1776. He resigned in June 1776 to become Continental agent at Portsmouth, superintending the construction of several warships including the Raleigh, the America, and the Ranger. In 1777, he equipped a volunteer troop of horse and participated in the battles of Bennington and Saratoga and the following year, in the Rhode Island campaign. His stellar and lifelong public service included being a signer of the US Constitution, two-term president and later, governor of New Hampshire (1805-1812) and more than 12 years in the U.S. Congress. The Ranger, an 18-gun Continental Navy ship-sloop initially called Hampshire, was launched on 10 May 1777 at John Langdon's shipyard on Badger's Island in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Commanded by Captain John Paul Jones, she was frigate-built and pierced for twenty-six guns; viz., eighteen below, and eight above. This number was furnished, but Jones rejected all but those for the main deck, mounting 20 six-pounders. In this rare receipt done for the Ranger's initial outfitting, Parker charges two pounds for "cutting US upon 20 Cannon" in July 1777; in other words, engraving the abbreviation for the United States of America in cipher upon the barrels of the iron six-pounders--the only documented instance of this found to date for Continental Navy ordnance. Further armament work includes mending and putting swivel mounts to three blunderbusses, fabricating "80 pikes and lances" at one pound apiece, furnishing "Sundry Armourers tools & stores" valued over 93 pounds, and "polishing 2 Swords [and] 2 pr.pistols" delivered to Captain Matthew Park (who commanded the Marine detachment aboard the Ranger). Parker's skills as a whitesmith included making a speaking trumpet and a "Set of Amputating Instruments with Case Compl[ete] for 50 pounds, the latter of which was delivered on October 16th--keen-bladed knives and saws that would all-to-soon be put to their grim tasks. Sheet metal work included fabricating "funnels for 2 Cabooses" that cumulatively weighed 63 pounds and providing "42 pounds of sheet iron ...for mending Caboose.” The “Ranger” sailed for France on 1 November 1777, carrying dispatches to the American commissioners in Paris telling of General Burgoyne's surrender. On this maiden voyage, two British prizes were captured. Ranger arrived at Nantes on 2 December, where Jones sold the prizes and then proceeded to Paris with news of the victory at Saratoga. On 14 February 1778, Ranger received the first official salute to the new American flag--the "Stars and Stripes"--given by the French fleet at Quiberon Bay. On April 17th, she took another prize and sent her back to France and nine days later, Jones led a daring raid on the British port of Whitehaven, spiking the guns of the fortress and burning the ships in the harbor. Ranger then sailed across the North Channel to Ireland, where she took the 14-gun HMS Drake after an hour's battle and later captured a storeship, returning to the French port of Brest with her prizes on 8 May, perhaps the most successful cruise of a Continental vessel during the war. CONDITION: Very fine; bright and clean document with strong inked text and three flattened folds. JLK

Item Dimensions: 15 x 12"
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $1,800.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $6,600.00
Estimate: $3,500 - $6,500
Number Bids: 19
Auction closed on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.
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