Postmaster Group & Thomas Jefferson Letter

Value (2013) | $300,000 Auction$350,000 Auction

When I first opened up this Ebenezer Hazard book, I saw there was a sheaf of papers and they were really very special. You said that you're related to Ebenezer Hazard, is that right?

That's correct, yes. He's a great-great- great-grandfather. I'm not sure how many greats.

Well, I don't know if I can fill you in on some family history or not, but Ebenezer Hazard was one of our nation's first postmaster generals. He was born in 1744, died in 1817. He was also a great collector of historical documents, and while he was postmaster general, he petitioned Congress in order to publish these two volumes of historical collections, and this is the title page to volume one. They were done in 1792 and 1794, published by Dobson. Over here, we have the original contract that Hazard signed with Dobson-- a famous Philadelphia publisher-- to get them published. This is an amazing set of books that you have. It only goes up to 1662 because the sales were so low on it that he couldn't raise money for additional volumes. However, there were important people who did subscribe to it. Over here we have Vice President Adams in 1791 putting in his dibs on a copy of it. And also there are other famous people who would contribute things to it. Over here we have a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Ebenezer Hazard, and he's enclosing something that he wants put into a volume of historical collections. And this is an act of Congress... ...from 1783 in which Thomas Jefferson and some of his other colleagues get the land northwest of the Ohio River as well as the Virginia Territory ceded to the United States. So it's an incredibly important fair copy of this document. And this letter says, "Here is a copy "which I've copied out in my own hand "so that it can be included in your volumes of historical collections." Now, this is not the copy that went to Congress or was recorded there, but it is very important because it's in Thomas Jefferson's own hand and it's one of the most important documents that an act of Congress could actually accomplish, which was ceding a whole bunch of territory, including a lot of Ohio, to what was the United States. Usually Jefferson documents do not bring that much money-- $3,000, $5,000. But in this case, this is a great document and it's in superb condition in the original envelope. I would estimate this letter alone, with its attending document inside, to be worth $100,000.

Oh, my God.

Now, the other material is worth a few thousand dollars in itself. Thanks so much for bringing it on the show.

My pleasure.

Appraisal Details

Caliban Books
Pittsburgh, PA
Update (2013)
$300,000 Auction$350,000 Auction
Appraised value (1999)
$100,000 Auction
Columbus, OH (August 14, 1999)

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