An auction house in New Jersey is about to sell the powder horn of Alexander Hamilton – a founding father, the first American Secretary of Treasury, and the loser of America’s most famous duel. Experts says Hamilton likely used the horn to carry gunpowder in some of the most critical events in American history.
According to the Washington Post, the powder horn is inscribed with the Founding Father’s name along with the year he went to Columbia University, 1773. He would have likely had it while leading troops into battle as General George Washington’s aide. And the horn may have even been at his side during the fateful duel with Aaron Burr that would end Hamilton’s life.
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When the Founding Father died, his family was left with huge debts and consequently sold off a lot of his affects. Over two centuries later, one of his items, the powder horn, found its way to New Jersey dentist Warren Richman. He originally acquired the horn from a patient in 1990, and has been working to verify its authenticity and studying its etchings, which include a unicorn, for years.
Now, he’s hoping that whoever buys Hamilton’s horn donates it to a museum. It will go up for auction at the Sterling Associates in Closter, New Jersey with an expected opening bid of $10,000.
Richman explained, “It’s a symbol of hopes and aspirations, and it’s such a positive symbol of his future.”
The auction could not have come at a better time. Interest in Alexander Hamilton is surging thanks to the hip-hop musical Hamilton, which recounts the former politician’s life story.
The musical debuted in February of this year at the Public Theater in New York City to a sold-out house. It now regularly pulls in $1.5 million a week with some people paying over 10 times the $120 ticket price.
The show depicts the life of Alexander Hamilton, who was born out of wedlock in the Caribbean. He quickly went from being a penniless orphan to one of the most influential figures in America’s early history.
Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspired to write the smash musical after reading Ron Chernow’s biography on Alexander Hamilton. The cast features modern hip-hop songs and a young African-American and Latino cast.
Although Hamilton is perhaps best known for his duel with Aaron Burr in 1804, the Secretary of State had a long list of accomplishments and firsts, including being the principal authors of the Federalist Papers and being the subject of possibly the first political sex scandal in the country – revealed in great detail in what came to be known as the Reynold pamphlet after Alexander Hamilton’s lover Maria Reynolds.
In addition to boosting auction prices, the musical has inspired a new interest in everything Hamilton. Attendance to his original home in New York, now known as the Hamilton Grange National Memorial, is up 250 percent.
Likewise, Alexander’s place on the $10 bill may be safe for at least another year. As the first Secretary of State, Hamilton’s face has graced more currency than any other American historical figure. Partially as a result, the department of the treasury has been considering replacing his position on the $10 bill with a female face.
Those plans now appear to be on hold, at least until 2016 according to Politico.
The auction for the Alexander Hamilton’s powder horn will start for in-person, online and by telephone bids on January 11th, the Founding Father’s birthday.
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]