Did You Know that the John Adams Autograph Can be More Valuable Than a Thomas Jefferson Autograph?
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John Adams Autograph
The John Adams autograph is more popular than the President himself. In history, John Adams plays second fiddle to Thomas Jefferson, and perhaps rightfully so, but due to the John Adams autograph being rarer than the Thomas Jefferson autograph, his signature can be worth a few thousand dollars more. These days, a John Adams autograph starts at $3,250 and sells for tens to hundreds of multiples of this if this autograph is on an important letter signed by Adams with historic content. A common form of a John Adams autograph, the document signed as President will sell for between $6,000 – $8,000. Here is a John Adams autograph that we have sold for $8097.60:
We have also sold these two 5-figure John Adams autograph letters signed before too:
John Adams Autograph Letter Signed as President, Who Didn’t Have a Full-Time Military! — “…an Army and Navy Establishment is essential to the present & future Interests & Greatness of the United States…”
Historically important John Adams autograph letter signed dated 19 July 1799, during his term as the second American President. Adams writes from Quincy, Massachusetts to Secretary of War James McHenry regarding the need for a standing army and navy, warning of embarrassment should the department heads be surprised. After the end of the American Revolution, the U.S., distrustful of standing militaries, sold off the last ship in its Continental navy and disbanded its army. A small navy was reinstated to protect American commerce with the onset of war in Europe in 1793. The U.S. negotiated a treaty with Britain but negotiations with France broke down during the XYZ affair. France, an ally to the American colonies during the American Revolution, now saw the U.S. as a British ally during their own war with England, and began seizing American merchant ships. In 1798, Congress established a Department of the Navy and empowered the merchant marine to defend American ships. A provisional army was also authorized. Peace negotiations with France began in January 1799, while Adams continued to build up the American military, as reflected in this letter. It reads in part, “…I agree with you…that both an Army and Navy Establishment is essential to the present and future Interests & Greatness of the United States and that We must run the Risks which other Nations have run. It appeared to me that Offices were created and Salaries made necessary in the Plan for Supplying the Army, which would require the Interposition of Congress, But if the Powers already given to Administration are Sufficient I am Satisfied…J. Adams”. Strong John Adams autograph. This letter appears in “The Works of John Adams,” volume 8, 1856. Minor foxing and damp staining along left edge of single page letter, measuring 8″ x 9.75″. Separation to folds; overall very good. Sold for $27,000.
This John Adams autograph below might have been the better out of the two. What do you think?
John Adams Autograph on a Letter Where He Reflects Upon the Real Causes of the American Revolution — “…what would be the consequences of an attempt on the part of Great Britain, to carry into…Authority over Us…War and Carnage, and devastation I saw – or thought I saw must be the consequence – and I fully believed that all the horrours of such a Contest would never wholly subdue the old non-conformist Spirit…” — Extraordinary and Moving Letter on the Indefatigable Spirit of the American Colonists
John Adams autograph letter signed by almost 50 years after the American Revolution, after which enough time had passed that Adams felt compelled to correct the record about the true causes of the American Revolution. Addressed to Jonathan Mason of Boston, letter is dated 31 August 1820 from “Montezillo”, Adams’ playful comparison to Jefferson’s larger estate at Monticello. In this letter, Adams posits that the fear and hatred of heirarchy, especially in matters of religion by The Church of England, were the wellspring of revolution, rather than simple economic or social issues. In part, “…The real principles, Motives, and feelings which gave rise to the Revolution have been very superficially and imperfectly investigated. For one example among many, The dread of the Hierarchy; and of the high principles in Religion and government; which then prevailed in the Church of England and which were more openly and dogmatically professed and asserted in America than in England itself – Are not sufficiently known, and have not been sufficiently considered. – Indeed it is almost impossible to convince at this day, any young Man; or even any middle aged Man of the extravagance to which those high doctrines were carried before the Revolution…And of the Authority of the Church in matters of Religion – yet these Doctrines, I heard asserted almost every day – The idea that such a Church, and such doctrines and such Hierarchy where [sic] to be established by Act of Parliament appeared to me worse than Death – As I know this to be the feeling and Principle of all the Dissenters in America – I did not believe they would submit to it…I therefore believe as early as I can remember, that this Country would never submit to the Unlimited Authority of Parliament – And this opinion forced me to consider what would be the consequences of an attempt on the part of Great Britain, to carry into execution a Soverign Legislative Authority over Us. – War and Carnage, and devastation I saw – or thought I saw must be the consequence – and I fully believed that all the horrours of such a Contest would never wholly subdue the old non-conformist Spirit…” Signed boldly and clearly “John Adams autograph”. Two page letter with integral franked address leaf measures 8″ x 10″. Minor loss from seal tear on address leaf, else near fine. Housed in a light blue cloth folding case, with the blue morocco spine lettered gilt. Clean John Adams autograph. Sold for $45,000.
We have this great John Adams autograph letter signed in our 2018 auction:
John Adams Autograph Letter Signed — Exceptional Content During War of 1812: “It is of no other use to ruminate upon the faults, Errors & blunders of Washington in the revolutionary War…”
John Adams autograph letter signed with exceptional content expressing strong opinions about the United States, its leaders, military strength and foreign powers during the War of 1812. John Adams autograph letter signed is also accompanied by the original envelope with Adams’ free franked signature. Written on 5 December 1812 from Quincy to his son-in-law William Stephen Smith, who at the time was running for Congress, Adams expresses his deep concern for America’s future in the letter, which reads in full: “Dear Sir / I received yesterday your favour of the 16th of last month. It is of no other use to ruminate upon the faults, Errors, and blunders of Congress and Washington in the revolutionary War, or upon those of Congress and Jefferson or Congress and Madison during the last twelve years; than to derive wisdom from their costly experience, and rectify our counsels and correct the conduct of our arms for the future. There are some truths in which every American Citizen ought, by this time, to agree: one of which is, that We ought from hence forward forever, at all hazards, and at any expence, to erect and maintain an irresistable Superiority of Naval Power upon all the Lakes and Water Communications, Unless both Nations will Stipulate, that neither Shall have a Single Cannon afloat upon any of them. Another is that we ought to direct our most Strenuous Efforts, and to apply our most ample resources to the Establishment and Maintenance of a Naval Power Sufficient to protect our Commerce, our Atlantic Frontier and the Missisippi River. The Frankness & promptitude of Military Gentlemen ought always to be the result of previous and cool deliberation and a perfect knowledge of the Subject. Hull and Burgoine & the Prince of Brunswick were prompt and frank to their disgrace and ruin. They would all Say, they meant to Speak daggers but use none. The Address of the Delegates at Hartford to the Counties of Madison and Herkimer, is prettily written, with a lively, nimble pen; but is it not too fluent upon the Occasion? Has it touched the nerve of Sensibility in the Nation, or in the Counties? Does it express the general Sense of the People? I should have advised the suppression of a few party reproaches, that I think are not well founded. The Allusion to Baltimore and King might have been Spared. However I presume they know best. if you are elected, you will find yourself in a new Scene of Life, where all your Patience, Prudence, Caution and Self Government will be indispensable. You will not Seldom have to pitty the Vanity and forgive the rudeness of gentlemen who will be loquacious, though vastly your inferiours in Age Rank and Services. I hope Dearborne Smyth and Harrrison will not go the way of Hull, and Van Ransaleer: but my Palsied Nerves quake for fear. Whether Madison or Clinton be Elected, he will deserve to be pittied; and ought to be supported with all the Energy and Unanimity possible: though there is reason to fear, that in the present discordant State of Society, Such felicity is not Attainable. A Peace with England, founded in Submission to disgraceful terms, by a Surrender of any Rights by the Law of Nations would not only be offensive, but really injurious to France and involve Us at once in a War with that Power; and however lightly, One Party may think of Such a War, and however ardently they may desire it, they would find it not easy to get rid of it. We could not annoy France who could hurt Us considerably, and We could hope to obtain no Satisfaction from either Power for the unnumbered Ships and Cargoes they have pyrated from Us. The Party aims at an Alliance with England and if they obtain it: farewell to Peace. A perpetual War with France and all her Allies must follow. While the divisions in our Nation and the Convulsions in Europe render the times difficult and perplexed, there never was more Occasion for Dr Moody’s doctrine, which was solemnly enjoyned upon me when I was going to Congress in 1774. ‘In times of difficulty and danger, when Men know not what to do; they ought to be very carefull that they do not do, they know not what’. I can do nothing but pray, and that I do most devoutly from my heart for the Blessing of Heaven upon the Counsels and Arms of our Country, and upon you and yours, whether you are to be publickly one of our Counsellors and defenders or not. My Love to Abigail, Caroline and all; especially to All worthy Justus, with whom I was a little miffed, when he wisely refused to be one of my Captains; but applaud him and thank him for it now. I am not sure it would not now be Wisdom in you to avoid the Snare as he did then. Affectionately Yours / John Adams autograph / P.S. There is, they say, an intrepidity of Face and a magick in the Eye of some Serpents, which fascinates Birds, Squirrels & ratts into Jaws open to devour them. This Faculty, Quality, or Power, in Men, overcomes Women, Children and Men too of the highest Station very often. It is called an imposing countenance. You and I have seen it and its mysterious Effects in several of our great acquaintance, whome I will not name at present. I have seen it in one Instance where you hint that you have seen it. If you ever saw, Silas Deane you must have seen it in great perfection.” Letter spans three pages on one card-style sheet measuring 14.75″ x 9″, double-framed so that the entire letter can be read. The fourth page contains the address panel, with Adams’ free franked signature, “J. Adams”, addressed to Smith in Hamilton, New York. Entire framed presentation measures 46″ x 25″ and weighs 18 lbs., 9 oz. Some separation along folds, though archivally reinforced, and bit of paper loss from wax seal, though not affecting content. Toning is minimal and letter is highly legible. Overall very good plus condition. A dark John Adams autograph. Minimum Bid $45,000.
We will be auctioning off this John Adams autograph in a book in 2018. A John Adams autograph in a book is scarce.
John Adams Autograph Copy of “A Discourse” — The Powerful Pro-American Independence Book Called “The Morning Gun of the Revolution”
John Adams autograph copy of “A Discourse, Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers”. Boston: Hall & Goss, 1818. Signed “John Adams autograph” on 15 November 1818 to Mary Sophia Quincy, the daughter of Josiah Quincy III, mayor of Boston and President of Harvard University, and a relation of Adams on his wife’s side. Written by minister Jonathan Mayhew who coined the phrase “No taxation without representation,” “A Discourse” was one of the central publications advocating for American independence from Great Britain. Originally published as a sermon in 1749 on the 100th anniversary of King Charles I’s execution, Mayhew argues that recent revisionist history of Charles as martyr was misguided and that execution of the King was just if the monarchy infringed upon the essential liberties of its citizens. John Adams stated that Mayhew’s sermon was “read by everybody” at the time America declared her independence; it was also called “the morning gun of the Revolution,” providing the moral rationale for armed resistance. Inscribed in another hand on the title page, reading, “Presented to Mary Sophia Quincy / Nov 15th 1818 by -” after which Adams signs his name, “John Adams autograph’. Bound in three-quarter leather with gilt titling to spine. Measures 5″ x 8.5”. Detached front board, some scuffing to leather, and foxing to signature page. Overall very good condition. A bold John Adams autograph. Minimum Bid $40,000.
If you are looking to auction, buy, consign or sell a John Adams autograph, a John Adams autograph in a book, a John Adams autograph document signed or a John Adams autograph letter signed, please email Nate@NateDSanders.com or call (310) 440-2982.
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