February 26, 2010

Revolutionary War map commands record price

DOUG HARLOW

— By

Morning Sentinel

FAIRFIELD — Gen. George Washington's map of the 1781 Battle of Yorktown sold Friday for $1.15 million, becoming the highest-priced artifact ever sold at auction in Maine, auctioneer James Julia said Friday afternoon.

The pen-and-ink battle plan -- yellow marking the forward lines of the allied French and American armies, red showing the British formation -- was sold at the James D. Julia Inc. auction house on Route 201.

The map, made for Washington himself, shows the defeat of Lord Cornwallis' British army, which caused the British to surrender, effectively ending the Revolutionary War, Julia said.

It was prepared by French Lt. Col. Jean Baptiste Gouvion for the Virginia campaign.

''It's the record for the most expensive antique ever sold in Maine, at auction,'' Julia said. ''I don't know where it stands in the world of maps, but it is certainly one of the most expensive maps ever sold.''

Previously holding the Maine price record was a Colt pistol that Julia sold at an auction in 2007 for almost $1 million.

''I'm ecstatic,'' Julia said of the sale of Washington's battle map.

Julia said he could not divulge the name of the map's buyer or where he lives. The sale was conducted via telephone by one of Julia's associates.

The map and other artifacts were from a collection of the descendants of Stephen Decatur and Tobias Lear, who lived in Kittery Point, Julia said. Lear was Washington's aide-de-camp during the war and handled all of Washington's papers after his death.

The collection is from the estate of Alice Decatur Armsden and her husband, Douglas Armsden. Their three daughters elected to sell the historical trove at auction.

Julia said he suspects the entire collection will sell for at least $2 million.

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