May 18, 2021 Early Arms & Militaria
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 5/18/2021
[Washington, Lawrence]: [Seal of Lawrence Washington, The Nephew Of George Washington]. [ca. 1791-1795] Gold holder contains the blue calligraphy seal of “LW.” Seal face measures 7/8" x 1". Lacquered numbers “6642” is found on the back of the seal. The numbers are believed to have been inventory numbers of Lawrence’s son's personal property. Dr. Lawrence Washington’s estate was documented then sold. He then moved out west with his family to Texas. Daley Hawley, collector of one the one most important GW Inaugural buttons collections presented a seal thought to have been Martha Washington’s. This newly rediscovered seal would represent “The First Lady Of Liberty”. The seal bearing a style of identical dotting that shows the same tooling of the bordering around the monogram of the GW Inaugural chain link buttons and the “MW” monogram. The Lawrence Washington seal gives credible evidence that the “MW” lady liberty seal is Martha’s. The “MW” bears the same identical lacquered brushed stroked numbers “4724”. The seal is a wonderful association to the family of George Washington and to the Virginia gentry of the Federal era. This is the seal of Lawrence Washington that would have been used by him in sealing letters and documents. Lawrence would have acquired the seal in his early adulthood after his schooling had concluded and toward the beginning of his legal career. Lawrence Augustine Washington (1775-1824) was the fourth son of George Washington’s younger brother Samuel. When Samuel Washington died in 1781, the future President took it upon himself to provide for the education of his nephews Lawrence and his older brother George Steptoe Washington. Throughout the 1780's and early 1790's, Washington supervised and paid for their education in Alexandria, Virginia, and then at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, from which the nephews graduated in 1792. While in Philadelphia, Lawrence also studied law with Attorney General Edmond Randolph. He married Dorcus Wood in 1797 and lived at Federal Hill, outside Winchester, Virginia. At the time of George Washington’s death, Lawrence and his brother were absolved of all their debts for their schooling which was then around five thousand dollars. President Washington even left the brothers portions of the Mount Vernon estate and many important personal objects. Lawrence and his brother often caused trouble for their Uncle, and it appears that Lawrence was the more rambunctious of the two. When Lawrence was twelve years old he was accused of attacking the five year old daughter of Samuel Hanson, with whose family he was staying with in Alexandria while he studied. Later the same year, however, Hanson was reporting to George Washington that Lawrence's conduct had improved. "‘From a perverse, insolent, unmannerly boy, he is transformed into an obliging, civil’ & respectful one” (Hanson letter to George Washington on May 4th, 1788). Lawrence’s behavior continued to be erratic, ranging from well mannered and obedient to disrespectful and violent toward Hanson, who in one letter to George Washington describes his nephew as a “great sloven”. This seal, along with two of George Washington’s personal seal fobs, including the Presidents ring seal and George Washington’s coat of arms watch seal, presently are the only known surviving seals to exist of any and all the Washington direct family males. This seal comes from the celebrated collection of Richard Townley Haines Hasley. Hasley, a Princeton Graduate and stockbroker by trade, was an intense Americanist. He believed that by promoting the history of American craftsmanship, modern American industry would be better protected against the intrusion of foreign made goods. Hasley began collecting in the 1890’s and continued through the 1920’s. His mission to advance modern scholarship of American decorative arts reached its zenith in 1924 with the opening of the American wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Hasley gave liberally of his expertise and his money to the project; the successful completion of which cemented his reputation as America’s leading authority on the subject. Afterwards he pioneered a course at St. John’s College in Maryland that explored the marriage between American Arts and Crafts and American history which became a model for a similar course taught by John Marshall Phillips at Yale University. Hasley, had lost his fortune in the stock market crash and had donated his renowned colonial silver collection to the Met Museum. Hasley one morning while walking to school at Yale, was accidentally struck by a bus and died. This seal was given to his daughter, along with a few miniature paintings of colonial officers, which were the last known personal pieces of colonial art that Hasley had possessed. Where his daughter, while residing in New Haven had sold the seal to Yale documents collector and art dealer, William Reese. Reese is considered one of the most respected in his field of collecting and selling professionally. Hasley’s daughter confirmed that her father purchased the seal from relatives of Martha Washington, the Custis family. Reese was known for his work on authenticating the lost, original Bill of Rights document, belonging to the State of Virginia. The seal in 2014, was purchased by Gary Gianotti FSA Scot, an American, fellow of the Antiquary Society of Scotland. Gianotti is known for authenticating the lost second great seal of the United States and being the first person to authenticate the only two factual period 13 Star’s & Stripes flags proven authentic. For a few years Gianotti was a board of directors member of the New Jersey based Swan Historical Foundation and the National Museum of the American Revolution at Washington Crossing State Park. He was also a trustee to one of the most important historical relic collections representing the founding of the United States period to the American Revolution. Gianotti currently researches and is the authority on the scientific study and authentication of the rare Silver Oval George Washington Indian Peace medals issued by the US Government and the US Mint from 1789-1797. The Lawrence Washington seal is a fine artifact from the family of George Washington, being the personal seal of a nephew for whom Washington had great affection. George Washington purchased seals for his nephews from the Philadelphia Jeweler Joseph Cooke. Cooke was regularly acquainted with selling and making jewelry for the Washington's. One receipt exists showing seal fobs being made for Lawrence’s cousin. An unmounted identical blue calligraphic seal has been located in the Met Museum and is identified to have belonged to Charles Thomson, the Secretary of Congress. Recently, Colonial Williams podcast interviewed silver historian Dr. Skerry, who announced the newly acquired watch seal of George Washington; made of topaz set in a gold holder. It is most unique. The rare feature is the ends of the monogram which show snake heads. These snakes, also known as worms, are found on the Lawrence seal representing the symbolism of Jesus Christ, associated to his last words on the cross, saying “I’m nothing but a worm”. The worm/snakes found in the Lawrence Washington seal are seen in great detail. Where it is common to see this Christian symbolism of the period, it is unique to see the exceptional detail on this seal. The other unique feature on the seal are the two flowers with six pointed petals that again symbolizes both Christ and American Sovereignty, which originates directly from British crown symbolism history of their Sovereigns. The reason for this symbolism found on Lawrence’s seal would relate to the story of Washington being asked to be the King of America. Where if Washington did become king, Lawrence would have been the heir of the American throne. Lawrence was the next in line and his descendants. This was a topic the media presented more than a decade ago, with an interview with Lawrence’s direct descendants in Texas. For Washingtonian collectors, this seal would be an exceptional piece to acquire. CONDITION: The Seal of Lawrence shows light wear and in near fine condition. PROVENANCE: A copy of the purchase receipt from well known dealer William Reese is included. William Reese put the buyer in contact with the daughter of the original owner, who orally provided the rest of the provenance above. She recalled being with her father when he purchased the seal from Washington descendants. DMG

Item Dimensions: 1"D x 1 - 1/4"T.
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Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $5,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $6,930.00
Estimate: $10,000 - $20,000
Number Bids: 3
Auction closed on Tuesday, May 18, 2021.
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