Nov 17, 2020 - Sale 2551

Sale 2551 - Lot 1

Price Realized: $ 9,375
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 6,000 - $ 9,000
UNCOMMON PRIVATEER COMMISSION (AMERICAN REVOLUTION.) HANCOCK, JOHN. Partly-printed Document Signed, as President of the Continental Congress, granting to John Ord, commander of the schooner Security, "Licence and Authority . . . to attack, seize, and take the Ships and other Vessels belonging to the Inhabitants of Great-Britain . . . to some convenient Ports in the . . . Colonies . . . ." 8x13 inches; encapsulated (but removable), few separations at folds repaired on verso, faint scattered soiling; matted and framed. Philadelphia, 6 February 1777

Additional Details

At the start of the Revolution, the military might of the British Navy was unmatched, numbering at over 200 vessels, while the Continental Navy began with fewer than 30. To win victory at sea, the fledgling government commissioned over 1,500 privateer vessels over the course of the War. A "letter of marque" issued by the Continental Congress, such as the one in this lot, offered a private ship owner the opportunity to simultaneously fulfill her duty to the new nation and exercise her enterprising spirit (since her crew often divided the spoils of seized enemy vessels). The life of a privateer, however, was dangerous: thousands were captured and neglected in prison ships anchored near the shores of New York City. Over 10,000 privateers and other American patriots who died of starvation or disease aboard these ships were hastily buried on the shore of the present day Brooklyn Navy Yard. Today, these remains are located in a vault below the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn.