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Sale 38 Lot 817

ROBERT SMITH
(1757 - 1842) Secretary of the Navy and Attorney General under Thomas Jefferson, led in the war against the Barbary pirates, later served as Madison's Secretary of State. Fine content A.L.S. penned just weeks before his death, 1p. 4to., Baltimore, Sept. 7, 1842, in part: "...I have the honor of sending to you the enclosed specimens of the autographs of Mr. Jefferson, of Mr. John Adams and of Mr. John Quinsey [sic] Adams. The various letters received from these, and other gentlemen, not being intended for the public eye, I do not, in delicacy, feel myself at liberty to part with it was the invariable practice of Mr. Jefferson in writing to use a polygraph...". Very good. Thomas Jefferson first acquired the letter-copying device he called "the finest invention of the present age" in 1804. It was invented by English-born John Isaac Hawkins, who gave it the name "polygraph". Based on the principles of the pantograph, it had two or more pens that were moved simultaneously by the writer's hand, making a duplicate copy or copies strikingly like the original.
Estimate $ 200-300

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