Recently a direct descendent of William Rodgers, a noted early American of the Colonel Rodgers family, asked to meet me at his home to buy and appraise some artifacts. It was a historical treasure trove of early American silver, miniature paintings on ivory, Revolutionary War militaria and much more. We were successful in placing all of his valuable items in the worldwide marketplace and it was one of the most memorable purchases we ever made.
Two pieces became dear to us and we have not sold them. One is a silhouette of William’s dad John Rodgers, who was a confidant of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. He was a well known Revolutionary War preacher and clergyman to many Founding Fathers. William kept a hand-written log of his two years on the USS Macedonian with colorful accounts of the banking ships’ dealing with gold bullion and millions of dollars worth of silver coins. It also details his interaction with pirates, privateers and unfriendly governments on its voyage around the world. There was a record of Midshipman Rodgers directly defying conventional historical wisdom that was written by Capt. John Downes, his superior. History states that Downes outwitted the notorious Lord Cochrane with great bravery and cunning seamanship. The log, however, states that Downes bribed Cochrane. We paid $7,000 for the log and while its auction value is yet to be known we feel it is priceless in its historical nature. We have digitized this log and shared it with scholars worldwide.
Jeff Hess, Owner & Appraiser of Hess Fine Art.