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Lot #108
Alexander Hamilton Letter Signed as Treasury Secretary

Boldly signed 1791 letter from Hamilton as Treasury Secretary, reproaching a Maine collector for lack of procedure

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Estimate: $8000+
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Boldly signed 1791 letter from Hamilton as Treasury Secretary, reproaching a Maine collector for lack of procedure

LS as secretary of the treasury, one page, 6.25 x 8, October 21, 1791. Written from the Treasury Department, a letter from Alexander Hamilton, ostensibly sent to Jeremiah Hill, the collector of customs at Biddeford and Pepperellborough in Maine. In full: “I received with your letter of the 8th instant, among other papers, a paid draught of the Treasurer, No. 852, for one hundred and thirty eight dollars. It has heretofore been directed in cases where bills are usually drawn on the Collectors, that receipts should be endorsed on them by the persons who receive the payments—which, in this instance, was omitted.” Showing his annoyance, Hamilton has directed the close of the letter to be underlined. Affixed to a slightly larger sheet and in very good to fine condition, with trimmed edges, and light show-through (and small tears) from mounting at the back corners. Boasting a bold ink signature, this handsome document dates to the close of the American Revolution and just three months before the ratification of the Bill of Rights, which Hamilton famously opposed for its inherent ambiguities.

Moreover, in 1791, Hamilton submitted the Report on the Establishment of a Mint to the House of Representatives. Because the most circulated coins in the United States at the time were Spanish currency, Hamilton proposed that minting a United States dollar weighing almost as much as the Spanish peso would be the simplest way to introduce a national currency. He proposed that the U.S. dollar should have fractional coins using decimals, rather than eighths like the Spanish coinage, and advocated the minting of small value coins, such as silver ten-cent and copper cent and half-cent pieces, which would aim to reduce the cost of living for the poor and accustom the general public to handle money on a frequent basis. By 1792, Hamilton's principles were adopted by Congress, resulting in the Coinage Act of 1792, and the creation of the mint.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts Featuring Classical Music
  • Dates: #661 - Ended April 12, 2023

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