U.S. Ships Passports Behind Expectations

FOUR SHIP’S PASSPORTS issued and signed by Jackson, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe ended UNSOLD and far below expectations at an US auction.

  • James Madison and James Monroe Four Language Ship’s Papers Signed. One partially-printed page, 20.5″ x 15.75″ (sight), December 21, 1811. Printed in French, Spanish, English, and Dutch, this passport authorizes passage of “Richard Marner master or commander of the ship called the General Gates of the burthen 576 42/95 tons or thereabouts . . . bound for Bordeaux and laden with Coffee, Sugar, Pepper, Bark & Logwood.” Countersigned by James Monroe as secretary of state. Matted with portraits of Madison and Monroe and framed to an overall size of 41.5″ x 25″. Condition: Folds. Slight paper loss at the lower left corner; .5″ tear near the upper left corner. Lightly toned along the vertical fold with light spots of staining near the upper left corner. UNSOLD! ESTIMATE: $1800-$2500
  • James Madison and James Monroe Four Language Ship’s Papers Signed. One partially-printed page, 21″ x 16.5″ (sight), February 15, 1812. Printed in French, Spanish, English, and Dutch, this passport authorizes passage of “Silas Tobey master or commander of the Brig called Prince Eugene of the burthen 146 39/95 tons or thereabouts . . . laden with Flour & Corn.” Countersigned by James Monroe as secretary of state. Matted and framed to an overall size of 28″ x 23.5″. Condition: Separation with some minor paper loss along the folds, not affecting the text. Scattered foxing. Ghosting at the right edge from two seals. A dark spot near the lower edge is likely from ink. Scattered spots of foxing and light staining near the right edge. UNSOLD! ESTIMATE: $1800-$2500
  • Andrew Jackson Scallop-Top Ship’s Passport Signed. One partially-printed vellum page, 10.5″ x 14.5″ (sight), [Washington], April 13[?], 1834. Issued to “the Bark Harriet of New York Seth Curtis master or commander of the burthen of 275 tons or thereabouts mounted with no guns navigated with Ten men.” Countersigned by Louis McLane as secretary of state. Matted with an engraved portrait of Jackson above a facsimile signature and framed to an overall size of 27.75″ x 23.75″. Condition: Unevenly toned. Folds; three small holes along the right vertical fold obscures some of the text; one small hole at the lower horizontal fold.
    UNSOLD! ESTIMATE: $1000-$1500
  • Thomas Jefferson Scallop-Top Ship’s Passport Signed. One partially-printed vellum page, 10.5″ x 15.25″ (sight), [Washington], November 14, 1804. Issued to the ship “Snow Boston of Philadelphia Nathaniel Franklin master or commander, of the burthen of one hundred forty four . . . tons or thereabouts, mounted with no guns, navigated with Ten men. TO PASS with her Company, Passengers, Goods, and Merchandize, without any hinderance, seizure, or molestation.” Countersigned by James Madison as secretary of state. Matted and framed to an overall size of 20″ x 25.25″. Condition: The text, including the signatures of Jefferson and Madison, is very faint and can be difficult to read. Light to moderate foxing throughout. Smoothed folds. UNSOLD! ESTIMATE: $3000-$4000

Ship’s passports were issued for the hole crew including freight and signed by the president to “secure” the journey. Not much desired by passport collectors but however an interesting passport type and not often to spot.

One of the earliest ship’s passport I had was one from JERSEY 1753! This great document went into a collection of a British collector.

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