o Washington"), a check drawn on the Bank of Alexandria, endorsed on verso by recipient "William Thornton," Mount Vernon, Virginia, 2 July 1799." /> WASHINGTON, George. Partly printed check accomplished and signed ("G:<V>o Washington"), a check drawn on the Bank of Alexandria, endorsed on verso by recipient "William Thornton," Mount Vernon, Virginia, 2 July 1799. | Christie's
  • Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2272

    Fine Books & Manuscripts including Americana

    24 June 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 125

    WASHINGTON, George. Partly printed check accomplished and signed ("G:o Washington"), a check drawn on the Bank of Alexandria, endorsed on verso by recipient "William Thornton," Mount Vernon, Virginia, 2 July 1799.

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    WASHINGTON, George. Partly printed check accomplished and signed ("G:o Washington"), a check drawn on the Bank of Alexandria, endorsed on verso by recipient "William Thornton," Mount Vernon, Virginia, 2 July 1799.

    2 3/8 x 7.3.8 in., minor stain at right-hand margin, with usual neat slit cancellations. An attractive check with a fine signature, headed "To the Bank of Alexandria," fully accomplished by the retired President. Washington has deleted the printed legend "Alexandria" and added "Mount Vernon." Ornamental typographical border of printer's flowers. An order to pay William Thornton the sum of $1,000.

    FIVE MONTHS BEFORE HIS DEATH, WASHINGTON WRITES A CHECK TO THORNTON, ARCHITECT OF THE NEW CAPITOL. Thornton (1759-1828), a Quaker born in the West Indies and trained in Scotland, emigrated to the U.S. in 1786 and in 1793 entered a competition for the design of the nation's new Capitol. His winning plan featured a central rotunda and a large dome modeled on the Pantheon, with a colonnaded front inspired by the Louvre. Washington praised its "grandeur, simplicity, and beauty," while Jefferson termed it "simple, noble, beautiful." Thornton received a prize of $500 and a city lot. Thornton was named by Washington to be one of the three Commissioners for the new District of Columbia.

    Printed checks of the first President are increasingly rare. In the past decade, only four have been offered at auction: 1) to the physician James Craik (sold in 1995 for $20,000); 2) to William Thornton (sold in 1983 for $5,000); 3) to Thomas Peter, 1798 (sold here in 1997 for $10.925); 4) to the merchants Bennett & Watts (sold here in December 1999 for $29,900. In addition, we have handled a handwritten check, also to Thornton (sold here in June 2005 for $24,000).


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    Saleroom Notice

    Please note the recipient of this check, William Thornton, also designed and built for President Washington two row-houses on North Capital Street in the District of Columbia, near the present-day Union Station.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN