Historic wine cooler fetches $782.5K

NEW YORK -- When you think of wine coolers, you probably don't think of America's founding fathers. But, at a Christie's auction Thursday night, someone thought so highly of a particular wine cooler that he submitted a winning bid of $782,500 for it.

The item in question was an actual cooler for wine that belonged first to George Washington, then to Alexander Hamilton. Pre-auction estimates had forecast a winning bid in the $600,000 range. It went on the block as part of Christie's Americana Week sales.

The buyer was Gary Hendershott, a collector and dealer in Little Rock, AR, who specializes in Washington memorabilia. He won the auction by telephone. I dropped out of the bidding a mere $781,000 earlier.

The cooler is a Sheffield-plate bowl that holds four bottles and ice. It was one of four designed by Washington in 1789 when he was sworn into the presidency and moved into his first official residence, on Cherry Street in New York.

When he left office in 1797, he gave one of the coolers to Hamilton, who had been the nation's first Treasury secretary. It had remained in Hamilton's family until the sale.

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