Both lots reported here from the Christie’s (25/20/14.5% buyer’s premium) auction on January 21 came from the collections of J William Middendorf II, a Republican former Secretary of the Navy and, in the mid-1980s, US Ambassador to the European Union.
Paul Revere’s engraving The Bloody Massacre perpetrated in King Street, Boston, on March 5th 1770, by a Party of the 29th Regt. was one of the most provocative and successful propaganda exercises of the American Revolution.
A silversmith, engraver and metalworker, Revere was also a member of the Sons of Liberty, a militant group formed in 1765, and this is by far the most famous of the engravings on revolutionary themes that he produced to raise money for that organisation.
Five Bostonians had fallen victim to British musket fire on that day.
Revere, who immediately recognised the propaganda value of the incident, took the opportunity of furthering the patriot cause by circulating a print based on an original drawing of the bloody confrontation made by Henry Pelham.
His engraving, of which 200 copies were printed at his expense, was advertised for sale in the March 26 editions of the Boston Evening Post and the Boston Gazette.
This example, showing some restoration of marginal losses to the edges, was first seen at auction in the same rooms in 1998, but was acquired by Middendorf at a Sotheby’s New York sale of 2012 at $90,000.
On this third outing it sold at $330,000 (£240,875).
Bid to $800,000 (£583,940) was a contemporary broadside edition of the Declaration of Independence proclaimed by the Continental Congress in 1776 – this one printed in Exeter, New Hampshire.