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The gage gold freedom box, otto philip daniel parisien, new york, 1773

About the item

Bombé oval with slip-on cover, the top embossed with a shield with the arms of New York, being windmill vanes flanked by barrels with a beaver above and below, all below a closed crown and flanked by supporters of an Indian with bowl, loincloth, and feather crown and a Mariner in European dress with sounding line, all on chased ground above the date 1773, surrounded by a band chased with the inscription SIGILIS CIVITAT NOV EBORAC punctuated by flowerheads, surrounded by a feathered border, the edge chased with demi-circles above the molded rim\nMarked twice on base OPDP in rounded rectangle\nThe “Freedom of the City” is an honor given by a municipality to an important resident or visitor, often as an address in a decorated box or casket.  This box, presented by the Council of the City of New York in 1773 and chased with the arms of the City, is the only known Colonial gold freedom box in private hands. The Presentation\nThe gift was instigated by the then Mayor of New York, Whitehead Hicks, and agreed by the Common Council on May 20, 1773.  The Mayor:\nCommunicated to this Board that General Gage Intends Shortly to Leave this province for Europe, & that as his Conduct has been Generally Approved of by the Inhabitants of this City, therefore proposed that this Board Should Address him & at the same time prefer him with the freedom of this Corporation, the Seal whereof to be Enclosed in a Gold Box. \nOn June 7, 1773, the Mayor and Board waited on his Excellency the Honorable Thomas Gage to make the presentation.  The recipient responded with an equally elegant note of thanks ending:\nI esteem myself highly honoured by your enrolling my Name in the List of your Citizens and I accept your present with gratitude, as a Memorial of your Affections, and as such I shall ever carefully preserve it.  It is my Ardent Wish, that your City may increase & prosper & that its Inhabitants may continue a flourishing & happy people, to the End of Time.\nThe Recipient\nThomas Gage (1721-1787) was the second son of Thomas, 1st Viscount Gage, an Irish peer, and his wife Benedicta.  He received his first commission in 1741 and served in Ireland, Flanders, and Scotland.  In 1754 Gage came to North America to combat the French, fighting alongside the then little-known George Washington.  An enthusiastic and capable officer, Gage was commended for his “gallant conduct” and twice wounded in action.  After the capture of Montreal and Quebec, Major-General Gage was appointed Governor of Montreal, where he was noted for his conciliatory rule.\nGage married in 1758 Margaret, daughter of Peter Kemble, president of the Council of New Jersey, and his wife Gertrude Bayard.  In 1763 Gage was named Commander-in-Chief of the whole British Army in North America, with his headquarters in New York.  He ran a vast military machine of more than 50 garrisons and stations stretching from Newfoundland to Florida and from Bermuda to the Mississippi.  With his wife’s connections among the local elite, the couple were popular in New York, entertaining in their house in Broad Street.  The General had more problems with the restless people of Boston, who resisted English taxes and acts more than loyalist New York.\nIn 1773, the Gages decided to return to England, for the General the first time in twenty years.  This departure was marked by the presentation of this Freedom box, ending a nine year residency which J.R. Alden, the General’s biographer, called “probably the happiest years in the life of Thomas Gage.”  Sent back the following year as Royal Governor of the difficult Massachusetts, Gage dispatched the troops that triggered Paul Revere’s famous ride – some historians theorize that a patriotic Lady Gage may have given first notice – and the “battles” of Lexington and Concord.  After the bloody battle of Bunker Hill and criticism over his actions in London, Gage resigned his position.  On October 10, 1775, the General left America for the last time.  He died in 1787, and the Freedom Address which accompanied this box is retained in the Gage family collection at Firle Place, Sussex (U.K.).\nThe Goldsmith\nThe minutes of the New York Common Council for June 6, 1773, include an order for the Treasurer to:\npay to Otto Parisien or order the Sum of £30:16 for a Gold Box made by order of the Board, for Enclosing the City Seal, Annexed to the Freedom, which the Corporation presented to General Gage this day.\nOtto Philip Daniel Paris[i]en was the son of a diplomat from Brandenburg stationed at the French court and spoke three languages.  He advertised in the New York Gazette in 1763 as “Goldsmith, from Berlin, makes all Sorts of Platework, both plain and chased, in the neatest and most expeditious Manner; likewise undertakes chasing of any piece of old Plate, at his House, the lower End of Batto Street.”  This suggests that he himself was responsible for the chased arms of the City of New York on this box, and David Barquist has suggested that Parisien may have served as an outworker chaser for Myer Myers’ workshop in the years before his naturalization.  Parisien remained in New York after the Revolution, advertising through 1792 and eventually retiring to New Rochelle, where he died in 1811.


Good condition, decoration crisp In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.


Length 3 1/4 in.


Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, New York, 1905, vol. VII, p. 420


Commissioned by the Court of Common Council of the Corporation of the City of New York on May 20, 1773 Presented to Lieutenant General Thomas Gage with the Freedom of the City on June 7, 1773 Probably his son Henry, 3rd Viscount Gage (1761-1808), of Firle Place, Sussex J. Parkes, goldsmith, 12 Vigo Street, London Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery (1847-1929), purchase from the above for £50 on September 12, 1897 By descent to the present owner


Marked twice on base OPDP in rounded rectangle


Property from the Collection formed by the 5th Earl of Rosebery

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.