Lot 259

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Benedict Arnold ANS on Pre-Rev. War Promissory Note Dating from His Days as a New Haven Merchant

A promissory note dated ca. January-March 1771, inscribed with 25+ words and signed by Benedict Arnold (1740-1801), as: "Received January 1771 in part of the within 594 feet Boards amtg to £1.6.9.. Received March 25th 1771 by the sight of Parcell Staves .. £2.8.3 on the within B Arnold." N.p. but almost certainly New Haven, Connecticut. The double-sided document is co-signed by Arnold's debtor Timothy Bradley recto. Docketed and with marginal mathematical calculations verso. Expected wear including paper folds. A vertical split has been repaired with adhesive tape that partly obscures about half a dozen words recto; this repair does not affect Arnold's inscription and signature verso. A few mounting traces, else near fine. The paper fragment measures 6.125" x 4.125" and is currently housed in a slab measuring 8.25" x 6.375." Accompanied by a Letter of Authenticity from James Spence Authentication, certification number BB86813, dated May 27, 2021.

Benedict Arnold loaned £6.10.2 to Timothy Bradley on January 23, 1771. Bradley's name appears in other business documents of this period linked with Arnold's, including May 1771 and August 1772 documents concerning New Haven real estate transactions.

The front of the promissory note is inscribed:

"I promise for Val[ue rece]ived this 23 Jany. 1771 to Pay Benedict Arnold or [Order], three weeks, six pounds Ten Shillgs. + two pence in g[] Oak Hogshead Staves at Fifty Shillgs per thousand [] good White Oak Boat or Square Edge Inch board a[] Five Shillgs. per thousand


Timothy Bradley."

On the reverse of the document, Benedict Arnold in his role of creditor has acknowledged receipt of part of Bradley's debt, as:

"Received January 1771 in part of the within 594 feet Boards amtg to £1.6.9.. Received March 25th 1771 by the sight of Parcell Staves .. £2.8.3 on the within B Arnold."

Benedict Arnold had many Connecticut connections: born in Norwich, he was educated at a private school in neighboring Canterbury, and had been earmarked to attend Yale University before family financial reversals forced him to forego college. Arnold opened a shop selling books, sundries, and pharmaceuticals in New Haven, Connecticut around 1762. Two years later, in 1764, Arnold partnered with another enterprising New Haven merchant, Adam Babcock, to acquire a small fleet of West Indies trading vessels. Arnold became prosperous and married local girl Margaret Mansfield in 1767. In 1771, the year he signed this promissory note, Arnold hired architect Peter Harrison to build him a house on Water Street, New Haven. For the next several years leading up to the American Revolution, Arnold held a prominent and well-respected position in New Haven society. Arnold was elected a captain of the Connecticut militia in March 1775.

Arnold's debtor Timothy Bradley could have been lifelong New Haven resident Timothy Bradley (1731-1810), who would have been Arnold's contemporary.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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August 17, 2022 10:30 AM EDT
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