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Sale 38 Lot 1149

COMMODORE MATTHEW C. PERRY'S CANE MADE FROM WOOD FROM HIS BROTHER'S SHIP, THE LAWRENCE A historic relic with outstanding provenance, a cane which once belonged to Matthew C. Perry, made of wood taken from the hull of the flagship Lawrence, commanded by his brother Oliver Hazard Perry during the battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812. The cane measures 34 1/4" long with a rounded ivory handle at top, with a silver-lined hole 4 1/2" from the top, presumably for a sling, and a 2 1/8" brass tip nailed to the shaft at bottom. The cane also bears two small inlaid silver plaques engraved in a fanciful script: "Com. O. H. Perry's victory Lake Erie Sept. 10th AD 1813", with the second plaque bearing Perry's immortal victory quote: "'We have met the enemy and they are ours'". The cane was at one time cleanly broken near center but that break is nearly indistinguishable and a few chips have been filled with matching wood wax putty. The cane bears slight wear consistent with age and use, and is in otherwise very good condition. This historic relic had descended directly down through Perry's family until offered at a Baltimore auction earlier this year. The cane is accompanied by a letter of provenance from a Baltimore attorney who consigned the cane (and other items) to that auction. The attorney is the son of the second wife of Oliver Hazard Perry. The letter reads, in part: "...Mr. Perry was born on March 5, 1915 in Rhode Island and was a direct descendant of Oliver Hazard Perry of the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie...[he] died in Pompano Beach, Florida in 1986. Mr. Perry left these items to my mother, Louise Colie Perry, to whom he was married at the time of his death...She was first married to my father...That marriage ended in divorce. Mr. Perry and my mother were married on June 14, 1975 in Baltimore, Maryland...Mr. Perry left these items to my mother who eventually gave the items to me. Mr. Perry said that all these items came down through generations of his family and that all the items were at one time owned by either the Oliver Hazard Perry of Lake Erie fame or that man's brother, Matthew Perry...". We have also undertaken efforts to confirm the provenance of this item, and are convinced of the veracity of the letters of provenance. Perry was directly descended five generations from Commodore Perry, borne out by census and genealogical data, and the Baltimore City Clerk's Office has confirmed that Louise Woods and Oliver Perry were indeed married June 14, 1975. As Oliver Hazard Perry had died in 1819, this cane was presented to his brother Matthew. The Lawrence was commissioned in early August 1813 and quickly began operations with a voyage to Detroit, Michigan in search of the opposing British squadron. During the September 10, 1813 Battle of Lake Erie, Lawrence served as flagship for Perry until she was disabled by enemy fire. Perry then transferred to her sister-ship, the brig Niagara, from which he fought the battle to a successful conclusion. In mid-1815, following the end of hostilities, the Lawrence was sunk in Misery Bay in order to preserve her hull. Her submerged hulk was sold in 1825 and, except for a brief examination in 1836 (when this cane was presented), remained underwater for five more decades. In September 1875, her remains were raised, cut into sections and transported by rail to Philadelphia, where she was exhibited during the U.S. Centennial International Exhibition. Her remains were destroyed by a fire during that exhibition making any relic of that vessel impossibly rare to obtain.
Estimate $ 3,000-5,000

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