Washington's Wine Cooler

Bloomberg has a nice short post about a four bottle Sheffield plate wine cooler designed to specifications for George Washington.  The cooler carried a $400,000 to $600,000 pre sale estimate at Christie's Americana sale for silver being held on Thursday, January 19.

I just checked the Christie's site and the silver portion of the sale has been completed and the cooler sold for a cool $782,500 including buyers premium.  I will have more on the Americana sales at both Christie's and Sotheby's once the consolidated reports are released.

Bloomberg reports on the Washington wine cooler
A four-bottle wine cooler whose provenance includes the first U.S. president and his treasury secretary could fetch as much as $600,000 this week.

The Sheffield-plate bowl, designed to the specifications of George Washington, is coming to the auction block on Jan. 19 as part of Christie’s (CHRS) Americana week in New York.

Washington ordered four wine coolers in 1789, the year he was sworn into office and moved into his first official residence on Cherry Street in Manhattan.

“They had just thrown out England and they had to entertain,” said Jeanne Sloane, Christie’s deputy chairman and head of silver. “But they didn’t want to be regal.”

The wine cooler was decorated only with lion’s masks and ring handles on the sides. Instead of using solid silver, a layered combination of silver and copper, known as Sheffield plate, was chosen.
“Extravagance would not comport with my own inclination, nor with the example which ought to be set,” Washington wrote to Gouverneur Morris in a letter asking his help with supplying the coolers.
‘As a Token’

In 1797, as Washington left office and moved to Mount Vernon, he gave one of the wine coolers to Alexander Hamilton, his friend and the first treasury secretary.

He writes in a letter to Hamilton that the gift is “not for any intrinsic value the thing possesses, but as a token of my sincere regard and friendship for you, and as a remembrance of me.” The passage is part of a long inscription that Hamilton’s descendants had engraved on the cooler, while the letter itself is in the collection of the Library of Congress.

The cooler has remained until now with Hamilton’s descendants.

Another highlight of the Americana sales is a full-size, complete first edition of John James Audubon’s “The Birds of America” (1827-1838). The four-volume set features 435 hand- colored engravings. It’s offered on Jan. 20 with an estimate range of $7 million to $10 million.
Source: Bloomberg

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