[PUTNAM, ISRAEL. 1718-1790.] BLYTH, BENJAMIN. 1746-1786. The Honble Israel Putnam Esqr. Major General of the United Forces of America. Salem, [MA]: printed by Joseph Hiller, [1775].

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Lot 59
[PUTNAM, ISRAEL. 1718-1790.]
BLYTH, BENJAMIN. 1746-1786.
The Honble Israel Putnam Esqr. Major General of the United Forces of America. Salem, [MA]: printed by Joseph Hiller, [1775].

Sold for US$ 2,500 inc. premium
[PUTNAM, ISRAEL. 1718-1790.]
BLYTH, BENJAMIN. 1746-1786. The Honble Israel Putnam Esqr. Major General of the United Forces of America. Salem, [MA]: printed by Joseph Hiller, [1775].
Hand-colored mezzotint, 356 x 252 mm. Heavily creased with wear, trimmed with some loss around edges, dampstain to lower edge

EXTREMELY RARE IMAGE OF "OLD PUT," ISRAEL PUTNAM, to all appearances in his most famous role at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Israel Putnam was a prosperous tavern keeper, farmer, and French and Indian War veteran when he heard the news of the Battles of Lexington and Concord and journeyed from Connecticut to Cambridge, MA to join the cause. He planned and fought with great distinction at Bunker Hill and is one of the purported first men to have said, "don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes."

The only examples of this print that we locate are at the American Antiquarian Society (uncolored), a single trimmed copy described in Fielding (American Engravers upon Copper and Steel) and a sale record at Goodspeed's in 1966 which seems to describe the present example. To quote the Goodspeed's description: "When you look at the face of Israel Putnam as stonily portrayed in this very rare print you do not doubt that this Connecticut farmer—the American Cincinnatus—could have captured a wolf in its den, survived an Indian torture stake, escaped the British by riding down a cliffside, and done all the other dangerous things related of him in legend, song, and story. Indeed, in this picture he looks as though he could have twisted off the hot hinges of Hell barehanded, had the need arisen. At Bunker Hill he was everywhere, especially where musket balls were thickest, and he became a Continental major-general who defied the great Washington himself—all of which is known to history. And it took nothing less than a paralytic stroke (Dec 1779) to put an end to his heroics."
American engraving from the Revolutionary era is very rare.

Footnotes

  • ISRAEL PUTNAM BY AN AMERICAN ENGRAVER
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