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One of the biggest sales at Doyle New York’s Rare Books, Autographs, and Photographs auction on November 5 was an important letter by George Washington. Purchased by a private collector for $362,500, the letter surpassed its pre-sale estimate of $80,000-$100,000. It was the fourth highest price paid at auction for a letter by Washington and the highest price for a single-page letter.

Written to James McHenry, Washington’s wartime aide on December 10, 1783, the President writes of his intention to resign as Continental Commander and become “translated into a private Citizen.” The letter was sold with McHenry’s archives in 1859 to Baltimore collector William T. Walters. It remained in Walters’ family until it was offered at Doyle’s auction.

The entire sale totaled $1,604,594, surpassing the pre-sale estimate of $849,200 to $1,255,000 and 90% of lots sold. Besides George Washington’s letter, major sales included John Webster’s The Deuils Law Case… (1623), the first quarto edition, which achieved $25,000; a set of Author’s Autograph Edition of Whitman that sold for $22,500; and a letter from Paul Gauguin to Camille Pissarro that brought $28,125.

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Beginning on November 13, Doyle New York will start auctioning select works from the Spanierman Gallery, one of the Upper East Side’s foremost American art galleries. Founded by Ira Spanierman in the 1960s, the Spanierman Gallery has played an important role in the understanding and appreciation of American art from the colonial era through the 20th century. The gallery has also placed many iconic works in prominent public and private collections across the country.

As the Spanierman Gallery has decided to shift its focus to modern and contemporary American art, they will auction hundreds of works from their early American art collection at a number of select sales that will take place in 2012 and 2013. The November 13 auction will include thirty works including four pieces by John Henry Twachtman, the last fully bound sketchbook of studies by Maurice Prendergast not in a museum collection, and a double-sided work by Alfred Maurer that exemplifies the artist’s Fauvist palette.

Another 36 works from the Spanierman collection will be sold at Doyle’s American furniture, decorations, and 19th century painting sale on November 19.

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