Five volumes from George Washington’s personal library

23 May

Magnificent five-volume set from the library of George Washington entitled “Family Secrets: By Mr. Pratt. In Five Volumes. Carefully Revised,” London, Paternoster Row, 1798, with each hardcover volume measuring 4 x 6.75. Each volume has clipped words in Washington’s hand affixed to an opening page or front pastedown. Words are: Volume I, “[de]grees east eight”; Volume II, “hundred poles”; Volume III, “with the said”; Volume IV, “ridge to a”; and Volume V, “sugar tree.” Ornately bordered personal bookplates of Benjamin Lincoln Lear are affixed to the front pastedowns of the first four volumes. Books are in overall good condition, bound in full calf. Exteriors significantly worn, with small bumps, chips, and tears along edges, several tears in leather over spines, and expected soiling. Interiors exhibit minor discoloration and scattered foxing but are overall clean. Rear board of Volume I is missing, front board is attached by a few threads, and there is a small pencil notation to the front free endpaper. Volume IV is missing both boards, and Volume V’s boards are both hanging on by a few threads. Set is housed in a stunning custom-made clamshell box with two red spine labels gilt lettered, “Pratt’s Family Secrets / 1798” and “From the library of George Washington.” These books were originally part of an auction that included items from the Tobias Lear family. Lear was Washington’s closest confidant and personal secretary, serving Washington from 1784–1799. Accompanied by color photocopies of the first page of a list titled “Catalogue of Books received from Washington,” with a second page starting with “Pratt Family Secrets.” An extraordinary collection boasting five examples in Washington’s hand. RR Auction COA.


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