Two cast-members of the much-honored Broadway musical “Hamilton” and its Tony Award-nominated scenic designer were on hand Wednesday at Sotheby’s to introduce the Manhattan auction house’s display of letters and other documents by and about Alexander Hamilton.
“There is something special about being able to hold and behold items from our American history that we’ve heard about as students, that we’ve heard about in our matriculation as American citizens,” said Bryan Terrell Clark, who took over the role George Washington on Tuesday. “You know, last night was my first night, and the rush of that adrenaline can be exhausting. And we have two shows today and still I thought to myself, ‘You can’t miss an opportunity like this.’ ”
The trove, available for public viewing until its Jan. 18 auction, includes the order appointing Hamilton aide-de-camp to Gen. Washington, love letters from Hamilton to his fiancee, Eliza Schuyler, and a lock of his hair presented by Eliza as a gift, customary in that era, to her sister-in-law. There are 77 lots in all.
Two-time Tony acting nominee Brandon Victor Dixon, who won the award as a producer of 2014’s best musical-revival “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” said that to view the documents as an actor, “The history endowed in the letters and the energy endowed in the letters help flesh out the storytelling onstage and connects us more deeply” to the real-life events.
He noted one document, sent by an unidentified person to Hamilton’s brother-in-law, Philip Jeremiah Schuyler, discussed an upcoming Fourth of July celebration. “And they want to toast the president but they want to figure out a way to toast him and not toast the vice president because they despised him so much. And they had a series of convoluted votes to try and figure out if there was a way.”
“Hamilton” scenic designer David Korins, who designed the entire multi-floor display of Sotheby’s Americana Week auctions, of which the Hamilton papers are a part, said he might not be immune to the auction bug himself. “I’m gonna try to get a letter!” he said.
Wednesday was also Hamilton’s 260th birthday.