Death of Button Gwinnett: rare find in an American newspaper…

June 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The name “Button Gwinnett” is one most have never heard, yet his signature remains perhaps the most rare and valuable of all Declaration of Independence signers.

Why? He was a relatively obscure figure prior to the war, and he died less than a year after signing the Declaration. Those who like to assemble a complete set of signatures of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence need his signature, and only ten are known to exist in private hands.

The reason for his early death after the 4th of July is a duel. He had disagreements with a rival military commander, Lachlan McIntosh, concerning a military defeat in Florida. Gwinnett & McIntosh blamed each other for the defeat and McIntosh publicly called Gwinnett “a scoundred and lying rascal.” Gwinnett challenged McIntosh to a duel which was fought on May 16, 1777. They exchanged pistol shots at 12 paces, both wounded, with Gwinnett dying of his wounds  3 days later.

The July 24, 1777 issue of the “Continental Journal” newspaper from Boston provides a very rare report of Gwinnett’s death by duel. This is the first we have encountered in an American newspaper.

Great to find an obscure report about an equally obscure but notable name from the Revolutionary War era.

Historically significant: one from our inventory…

March 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Although we would like to think we have a large number of interesting and fascinating newspapers within our inventory, there are few which float to the top when it comes to being very historically significant.

Our “American Weekly Mercury” from Philadelphia, 1735 is certainly one. The title and date alone would qualify its rarity, as American newspapers from that time are exceedingly scarce; from when Ben Franklin was just beginning his career. It is a handsome issue as well as the masthead features two wood engravings which make this a very decorative issue.
This was the first newspaper not only in Pennsylvania but also the Middle Colonies, having begun in 1719 by famed newspaper publisher Andrew Bradford, and continued until its demises in 1746. It was also just the third newspaper in all the colonies.

The content is certainly noteworthy, reporting on the very founding of the colony of Georgia. See the photos for the report and the involvement of James Oglethorpe. Its appeal as a purchase might be limited to those with a strong interest in Georgia history, but anyone could appreciate the value of having such an inconspicuous gem of a report on the front page of a newspaper.

Click on the link and enjoy.