Lot 343

C. Bulfinch Signed Boston Selectmen Doc Re: Central Burying Ground Tomb!

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C. Bulfinch Signed Boston Selectmen Doc Re: Central Burying Ground Tomb!

Estimate: $200 - $300

Starting Bid: $70

(0 Bids)

August 17, 2022 10:30 AM EDT
Live Auction
Wilton, CT, US


C. Bulfinch Signed Boston Selectmen Doc Re: Central Burying Ground Tomb!

A very intriguing document relating to two of the most celebrated personalities and iconic physical landmarks of early nineteenth-century Boston, Massachusetts: Charles Bulfinch (1763-1844), considered the first American-born professional architect; and the Central Burying Ground off Boston Common.

The 1p partly printed and partly manuscript document is signed by Charles Bulfinch, then in his role as Chairman of the Boston Board of Selectmen, as "Charles Bulfinch" at bottom. Issued from Boston, Massachusetts on March 20, 1804. The document is laid on a paper mount and shows expected wear and paper flaws consistent with age, including folds, splits, chipped edges, and toning. Mounting traces are visible verso. Else very good. 7.5" x 6."

In full:

"To all whom it may Concern.

This Certifies, that
Mr. James Trask
obtained liberty of the Selectmen, to break up the ground in the public burying place, south of the Common, for the purpose of building a TOMB therein; such Tomb being now completed and numbered Thirty Nine, - said James Trask is the proprietor of One half thereof, for the use of himself, his heirs or assigns.

By order of the Selectmen.

[signed] Charles Bulfinch [printed] Chairman.

Boston, March 20, 1804."

Charles Bulfinch sat on the Boston Board of Selectmen in the early- to mid-1790s, and chaired the Board from 1799-1817. In 1804, nine individuals sat on the Boston Board of Selectmen: Charles Bulfinch, Jonathan Chapman, Jonathan Hunnewell, John May, Ebenezer Oliver, William Porter, David Tilden, John Tilestone, and Francis Wright. Bulfinch's duties as Chairman of the Board of Selectmen entailed oversight of city lighting, drainage, public access, municipal buildings, and urban planning, all aspects related to Bulfinch's professional expertise as an architect. Bulfinch had garnered significant architectural experience designing churches, theatres, war memorials, state houses, and residential architecture around New England. From 1818-1829, he would serve as Architect of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

The Central Burying Ground was located "south of the Common," that is, Boston Common, facing Boylston Street. The cemetery is still intact today, some 270 years after it was first established in 1756, and some 220 years after James Trask acquired his half plot. James Trask's burial plot is listed in a 1917 survey of "Gravestone Inscriptions and Records of Tomb Burials in the Central Burying Ground, Boston Common…" (Salem: Essex Institute, 1917), on page 15, as: "No. 127 (old No. 39). Barnabas Wild and James Trask, owners" (p. 15). Find A Grave, the United States cemetery database, lists three tombstones in this plot, including those belonging to James Trask (1752-1820), his wife Agnes Raney Trask (1752-1828), and a relative named Samuel Trask (1789-1821).

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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