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Lot 178: Colonial Currency Note, VA, July 17, 1775 20s, Engraved Large ASHBY Form
Historic Autographs, Civil War Encased Postage Stamps, Colonial, Revolutionary War, Federal Era, Coins, Currency, Medals
December 10, 2016
Rancho Santa Fe, CA, USALive Auction
July 17, 1775 ASHBY Engraved 20s Virginia Large Form
Current Money of Virginia. July 17, 1775. Handwritten Date. Large Format Form. Twenty Shillings. Choice Very Fine to Extremely Fine.
Fr. VA-77b. This impressive Revolutionary War Large Format John "Ashby" Engraved Virginia Bank Form appears very close in quality to the Newman plate illustration found on page 445 of the 5th edition reference "THE EARLY PAPER MONEY OF AMERICA" by Eric Newman. It has four full wide margins and a pleasing, clean and attractive overall appearance. There is a faint trace of prior mounting and has a 1" vertical sealed split at the top right edge. The rich black text and designs are well printed on even lightly circulated period thin laid watermarked paper. Large printed text "VIRGINIA" included as part of the left margin's indent border design, as does the printed tiny "Ashby Sclpt. (Sculptor)" identification, and the prominent printed white on black reversed warning, "DEATH TO COUNTERFEIT." All text, manuscript portions and signatures are very clear. Boldly endorsed by the Virginia Treasurer, "Robert Carter Nicholas Treas." on the clean blank reverse side.
Robert Carter Nicholas was a Virginia lawyer and political figure. He served in the Virginia House of Burgesses, the General Assembly, and the Court of Appeals, predecessor of the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Nicholas was the son of Dr. George Nicholas and Elizabeth Carter Burwell Nicholas (widow of Nathaniel Burwell) of Williamsburg, Virginia. His father migrated to Virginia; his mother was the daughter of wealthy Virginia landowner, Robert "King" Carter of Corotoman. Born January 28, 1728/9, both parents were dead by 1734.
He studied law at the College of William and Mary and practiced in the general court under the royal government. He served in the House of Burgesses, 1755-61 as the representative from York County, and from 1766-1775 as the representative of James City County, and was Treasurer for the colony of Virginia, 1766-1775.
From 1761 to 1774, Robert Carter Nicholas was one of the trustees of the Bray school - a charity school for black children - in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was the principal correspondent with Dr. Bray's Associates in England, who financed the school.
In October 1765 along with John Randolph and George Wythe was part of committee that heard Thomas Jefferson's bar examinations. Later when he became Treasurer of Virginia, he stopped taking new cases and turned over many of his existing cases to Thomas Jefferson.
When in 1769 Peyton Randolph speaker of the House of Burgesses chose Jefferson to write a response to Royal Governor Botetourt's opening remarks to the House, his motions although accepted and passed were felt in committee to be "lean and tepid" requiring rewrite by Nicholas. Jefferson never forgot this humiliation.
In fact, in 1774 Jefferson had to rewrite a motion written by Nicholas objecting to Governor Dunmore's land proclamation. Also in May 1774, Nicholas introduced a motion written by Thomas Jefferson making June 1 a "day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer" to express sympathy of Virginia for their sister colony of Massachusetts as a result of the closing of the Port of Boston by the British.
On December 13, 1775 Nicholas after the battle of Great Bridge introduced a motion in the House of Burgesses denouncing Lord Dunmore as champion of "tyranny" a monster, "inimical and cruel" for pronouncing martial law and assuming powers, the "King himself could not exercise." Two days later he also submitted a motion to grant pardons to black slaves who he claimed had been deluded by the British to join Loyalist forces.
Nicholas opposed the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, but he was a member of the committee appointed to draft a declaration of rights and a new form of government for Virginia. He was a member of the Virginia General Assembly from 1776 to 1778 and in 1779 was appointed to the high court of chancery. Consequently he became a member of the first Court of Appeals, predecessor of the Supreme Court of Virginia. Judge Nicholas died in 1780, so only served one year.
Nicholas married Anne Cary, daughter of Wilson Cary of Warwick County in 1751 and the couple had four daughters and six sons. His grandson, Robert C. Nicholas was a United States Senator from Louisiana, and his daughter Elizabeth (1753-1810) married Edmund Randolph, the first United States Attorney General.