Holten letters sell for more than $46K at auction

Photo courtesy Cowan'sMore than 200 letters, predominantly written by well-known Danvers politician Samuel Holten, sold Friday for $46,875 at auction. 

DANVERS — A collection of letters written by well-known Revolutionary War era Danvers politician Samuel Holten sold for $46,875 at auction on Friday — more than three times what the auction house expected the letters to fetch.

The letters, written between 1742 and 1851, were auctioned of by the Cincinnati auction house Cowan’s and were expected to fetch between $10,000 and $15,000.

According to Eric Duncan, a marketing director at Cowan’s, the auction house is unable to say who the bidder was, but the bid was made over the phone.

Holten, according to Cowan’s website, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Patriot cause during the American Revolution and was a passionate politician. He was elected to numerous political bodies at both the state and federal levels including the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, the Continental Congress, the Massachusetts State Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives.

The majority of documents in the collection are draft copies of letters which Holten sent to friends, family and fellow politicians.

Emily Payne, a specialist in American history at Cowan’s, previously said the collection is so valuable because of how old the letters are, how many letters there are, and the fact that the letters were written by such a prominent figure in American history.

“We know the names of so many of the founding fathers, but when you read an archive like this, and when you read through his letters, you can see how there are so many other men — and perhaps women too — who were involved in the creation of this country who are not household names, but are Founding Fathers in their own right. These delegates to the Continental Congress, who were instrumental in ratifying conventions and things like that, we’re working so hard to really craft the constitution and create the laws of this country. That is one of things this archive reminded me of: these unsung heroes.”

Staff writer Erin Nolan can be reached at 978-338-2534, by email at enolan@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @erin_nolan_.

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