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V13 2010 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 40, October 3, 2010, Article 7

PIERRE DU SIMITIÈRE'S PORTRAITS, 1783

While perusing the Sotheby's online catalog of their 15 October 2010 sale of the James S. Copley library, I came across this interesting item with a connection to U.S. numismatics. -Editor

DU SIMITIÈRE title page DU SIMITIÈRE Washington image

LOT 584

DU SIMITIÈRE, PIERRE EUGÈNE Portraits of the Generals, Ministers, Magistrates, Members of Congress, and Others, Who have rendered themselves Illustrious in the Revolution of the United States of North America. London: R. Wilkinson &J. Debrett, 1783

4to (9 1/4 x 6 7/8 in.; 235 x 175 mm). Letterpress title, advertisement, 12 portrait plates signed "B.B.E." after Du Simitière, Drayton portrait with paper overslip correcting caption, caption to Washington portrait corrected in manuscript; lightly browned, title edgestained, faint dampstain in outer margin, tiny oval library stamp on verso of each plate, plates numbered in ink at upper left corner. Modern half-calf and marbled boards, gilt-stamped title label on spine.

ESTIMATE 4,000 - 6,000 USD To read the complete lot description, see: Sotheby's Copley Library Sale 15 October 2010 Lot 584

Our resident Du Simitiere expert Joel Orosz has this to add. Thanks!

Sotheby's is correct in speculating that General Washington sat for Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere during the Winter of 1778-1779--the precise date was February 1, 1779, John Jay, then President of Congress, accompanied Washington to Du Simitiere's home at Arch above Fourth Street (the site of the current United States Mint!), where the general sat for the artist for about 45 minutes.

The Washington drawing was part of a series of 15 Revolutionary-era worthies, but when the engravings were first published in Paris, only 13 were actually executed by the celebrated engraver Benoit Louis Prevost. A number were captured at sea by the British, others were damaged in transit, and it was not until 1782 that fragmentary sets reached America.

Then in 1783, two different English pirated editions came out with five days of each other--of which this copy being offered by Sotheby's is one. Du Simitiere, who had been counting on sales of these engravings to better his dismal financial condition, received no royalties from the pirated editions, and this was one of the factors (along with the amputation of a joint from a finger on his left hand), which led to his death, possibly by starvation, in October of 1784.

When his historical collections were sold at auction on March 19, 1785, the aggregations of coins and paper money contained within made this the earliest known public auction of a numismatic collection in the United States. Those interested in learning more about Du Simitiere's numismatic exploits are directed to my long out-of-print book, The Eagle That is Forgotten: Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere, Founding Father of American Numismatics. Numismatic booksellers often have copies in stock.

As readers know, Joel and Len Augsburger are working on a new book about Frank Stewart and the first Philadelphia Mint. Joel was in Philadelphia this weekend for the Whitman coin show. He adds:

It dried out enough here today for Len and me to hold our first Mint-related sites walking tour and exhibition of Stewart coins at the West Wing of Independence Hall. A good time was had by all. Whitman also did more than a dozen photopanels of photographs and text from the book and put them up by the entrance to the bourse. Cool stuff. The plan is to have the Stewart book ready for sale at the FUN show in Tampa in early January.

THE BOOK BAZARRE

DAVID SKLOW - FINE NUMISMATIC BOOKS offers the Q. David Bowers Research Library Sale Part III on October 9, 2010. Featured are: Original Typescripts by Q. David Bowers on Augustus B. Sage. www.finenumismaticbooks.com. PH: (719) 302-5686, FAX: (719) 302-4933. EMAIL: numismaticbooks@aol.com. USPS: Box 6321, Colorado Springs, CO. 80934. Contact me for your numismatic literature needs!


Wayne Homren, Editor

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