Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 24

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Lot 198

(Penn, William). Elm wooden box of tongue-and-groove construction with a brass hinge, 4¼ in length x 2¼ in. in width x 1 1/8 in. in height, with beautiful red-rose toning and deep wood grain lines showing. A small bit of wood loss at the bottom back right corner does not detract from the presentation. Inscribed in pen on the inside under lid of the box is "1841 H.S. Gardiner This Box." Accompanied by a letter of provenance signed "H.S. Gardiner, Phila. Sept. 14th 1815," stating that the box was made from a piece of the root of the tree under which William Penn made his famous treaty with the Indians. Gardiner says, in part: "..the great Elm…stood nearly one hundred and thirty years after the Treaty, and was blown down in a storm in 1811….The Tree was held in high veneration by our Citizens and when it fell as many as could get a piece of it which being made into small Boxes Cups &C. and sent by many to their friends in a far distant Country as a relic to be placed in there [sic] cabinet to keep alive the memory of what that tree had witnessed, of which this Box is made from a piece of the root." The letter has old tape repairs, mostly on the back.

Watson's Annals of Philadelphia, published in 1830, reports that the tree was blown over on March 3, 1810--a Saturday night--and was visited by hundreds of people the next day. "When the tree had fallen, several took their measures to secure some of the wood as relics. An arm-chair was made from it and presented to Dr. [Benjamin] Rush….I have some remains of it myself." The tree was 150 feet tall, 24 feet around, and 283 years old when it fell. In 1800, it was drawn by Thomas Birch, who was famous for his color-engraved views of Federalist period Philadelphia.

This exceedingly rare relic represents William Penn's treaty with the Indian Nations (the Lenape tribes) in 1682. It was the only treaty never written down nor signed by any parties and, ironically, the only treaty with American Indians that was never broken. Truly a rare and historic piece of American history.
Estimated Value $8,000 - 10,000.


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