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Alexander Hamilton's letters to be auctioned in NYC

Associated Press logo Associated Press 1/11/2017 By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press
CORRECTS NAME OF SON FROM PATRICK TO PHILIP- Javier Munoz, who plays Alexander Hamilton in the hit Broadway musical, tears up as he reads a letter from Hamilton's son Philip to his father that starts with the words "Dear Papa," Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in New York. The letter is among a trove of artifacts related to Alexander Hamilton, including love letters to his wife, Eliza, will be offered up for auction at Sotheby's Jan. 18. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) © The Associated Press CORRECTS NAME OF SON FROM PATRICK TO PHILIP- Javier Munoz, who plays Alexander Hamilton in the hit Broadway musical, tears up as he reads a letter from Hamilton's son Philip to his father that starts with the words "Dear Papa," Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in New York. The letter is among a trove of artifacts related to Alexander Hamilton, including love letters to his wife, Eliza, will be offered up for auction at Sotheby's Jan. 18. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

NEW YORK (AP) — The hottest Broadway show is shining its spotlight on a collection of historic American documents: Alexander Hamilton's letters, being auctioned at Sotheby's.

Javier Munoz, left, who plays Alexander Hamilton in the enormously popular Broadway hip-hop musical "Hamilton," laughs with the show's set designer David Korins as they read a letter from Hamilton to an unnamed recipient, possibly Jeremiah Wadsworth, about the 1796 presidential election, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at Sotheby's auction house in New York. This and a trove of artifacts related to Alexander Hamilton, including love letters to his wife, Eliza, will be offered up for auction at Sotheby's Jan. 18, part of "Americana week." Munoz says holding and reading Hamilton's private thoughts about everything from his love life to war in America will have a deep effect on his Broadway performance. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) © The Associated Press Javier Munoz, left, who plays Alexander Hamilton in the enormously popular Broadway hip-hop musical "Hamilton," laughs with the show's set designer David Korins as they read a letter from Hamilton to an unnamed recipient, possibly Jeremiah Wadsworth, about the 1796 presidential election, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at Sotheby's auction house in New York. This and a trove of artifacts related to Alexander Hamilton, including love letters to his wife, Eliza, will be offered up for auction at Sotheby's Jan. 18, part of "Americana week." Munoz says holding and reading Hamilton's private thoughts about everything from his love life to war in America will have a deep effect on his Broadway performance. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Javier Munoz, who plays him in the Broadway musical, got teary-eyed Tuesday as he held the only known letter from Hamilton's son Philip to the man addressed as "Papa." The son asks his father for advice on a written presentation, noting that his mentor had deleted a sentence Hamilton liked best.

A lock of Alexander Hamilton's hair displayed with a autographed letter written by Elizabeth (Eliza) Schuyler Hamilton presenting the hair from her late husband to sister-in-law Mary Ann Sawyer Schuyler is displayed, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at Sotheby's in New York. It is part of a collection of letters penned by one of the America's founding fathers to be offered up for auction Jan. 18. This lock and letter is are part of a trove of artifacts related to Alexander Hamilton, including love letters to his wife Eliza, with an estimated worth starting at $1.4 million and topping $2 million. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) © The Associated Press A lock of Alexander Hamilton's hair displayed with a autographed letter written by Elizabeth (Eliza) Schuyler Hamilton presenting the hair from her late husband to sister-in-law Mary Ann Sawyer Schuyler is displayed, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at Sotheby's in New York. It is part of a collection of letters penned by one of the America's founding fathers to be offered up for auction Jan. 18. This lock and letter is are part of a trove of artifacts related to Alexander Hamilton, including love letters to his wife Eliza, with an estimated worth starting at $1.4 million and topping $2 million. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

"I'm overwhelmed," said Munoz, who held the delicate old piece of paper unprotected, asking permission to flip it over. "It's sort of like walking into someone's apartment and looking at the desk where they work. And that's so revealing about how their mind works."

A letter written by Alexander Hamilton's son Philip to his father begins with "Dear Papa," as displayed at Sotheby's, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in New York. Part of a trove of artifacts related to Alexander Hamilton including love letters to his wife, Eliza, the items are scheduled to go on the auction block Jan. 18. The dozens of letters penned by one of the nation's founding fathers belong to Hamilton's descendants. The documents have an estimated worth starting at $1.4 million and topping $2 million. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) © The Associated Press A letter written by Alexander Hamilton's son Philip to his father begins with "Dear Papa," as displayed at Sotheby's, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in New York. Part of a trove of artifacts related to Alexander Hamilton including love letters to his wife, Eliza, the items are scheduled to go on the auction block Jan. 18. The dozens of letters penned by one of the nation's founding fathers belong to Hamilton's descendants. The documents have an estimated worth starting at $1.4 million and topping $2 million. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Dozens of the letters penned by one of the nation's founding fathers will go on the block Jan. 18, with an estimated worth starting at $1.4 million and topping $2 million. But Sotheby's expects the feverish interest in the megahit "Hamilton" likely will drive prices up.

A detail of a document of Alexander Hamilton's appointment as aide-de-camp to General George Washington is displayed, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at Sotheby's in New York. This document, along with a trove of artifacts related to Alexander Hamilton, including love letters to his wife Eliza, will be offered up for auction at Sotheby's Jan. 18. The collection of documents and other items have an estimated worth starting at $1.4 million and topping $2 million. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) © The Associated Press A detail of a document of Alexander Hamilton's appointment as aide-de-camp to General George Washington is displayed, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at Sotheby's in New York. This document, along with a trove of artifacts related to Alexander Hamilton, including love letters to his wife Eliza, will be offered up for auction at Sotheby's Jan. 18. The collection of documents and other items have an estimated worth starting at $1.4 million and topping $2 million. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The most valuable item of the auction, estimated at $300,000 to $500,000, is one of Hamilton's "Pacificus" essays probing a contentious issue — George Washington's declaration of his nation's neutrality in the conflict between France and Great Britain.

The flip side of a letter from Alexander Hamilton's son Philip to his father is displayed, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at Sotheby's in New York. The letter is among a trove of artifacts related to Alexander Hamilton, including love letters to his wife Eliza, to be offered up for auction at Sotheby's Jan. 18. Dozens of the letters penned by one of the nation's founding fathers with an estimated worth starting at $1.4 million and topping $2 million are part of the collection. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) © The Associated Press The flip side of a letter from Alexander Hamilton's son Philip to his father is displayed, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at Sotheby's in New York. The letter is among a trove of artifacts related to Alexander Hamilton, including love letters to his wife Eliza, to be offered up for auction at Sotheby's Jan. 18. Dozens of the letters penned by one of the nation's founding fathers with an estimated worth starting at $1.4 million and topping $2 million are part of the collection. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

"This is a unique conjunction of historical material with the popular zeitgeist," said Selby Kiffer, the auction house's expert on books and manuscripts. "I have not experienced anything like this before."

Sotheby's books and manuscripts expert Selby Kiffer arranges documents pertaining to or written by Alexander Hamilton on a table, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at Sotheby's in New York. The hottest Broadway show is shining its spotlight on a collection of historic American documents: Alexander Hamilton's letters, being auctioned at Sotheby's. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) © The Associated Press Sotheby's books and manuscripts expert Selby Kiffer arranges documents pertaining to or written by Alexander Hamilton on a table, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at Sotheby's in New York. The hottest Broadway show is shining its spotlight on a collection of historic American documents: Alexander Hamilton's letters, being auctioned at Sotheby's. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The designer of the show's sets, David Korins, also created parts of Sotheby's Americana exhibit space that includes the kind of furniture and art that surrounded Hamilton in his daily life.

Letters penned by or pertaining to Alexander Hamilton, left, in a painting, are displayed in cases, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at Sotheby's in New York. The documents and artifacts, which include love letters to his wife Eliza, will be offered up for auction at Sotheby's on Jan. 18. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) © The Associated Press Letters penned by or pertaining to Alexander Hamilton, left, in a painting, are displayed in cases, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at Sotheby's in New York. The documents and artifacts, which include love letters to his wife Eliza, will be offered up for auction at Sotheby's on Jan. 18. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Above the displays, Korins strung bunjee-like tension cords in red, white and blue as links leading visitors around, reflecting the threads of an American flag.

Javier Munoz, who plays Alexander Hamilton in the Broadway musical, "Hamilton," reacts as he looks at a document, part of a trove of artifacts and letters written by or pertaining to one of America's founding fathers, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at Sotheby's in New York. A trove of artifacts related to Alexander Hamilton, including love letters to his wife Eliza, will be offered up for auction at Sotheby's Jan. 18. Munoz says that reading Hamilton's private thoughts on everything from Hamilton's love life and political career to war and gardening will have a deep effect on his performance, especially details that don't appear on Broadway. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) © The Associated Press Javier Munoz, who plays Alexander Hamilton in the Broadway musical, "Hamilton," reacts as he looks at a document, part of a trove of artifacts and letters written by or pertaining to one of America's founding fathers, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at Sotheby's in New York. A trove of artifacts related to Alexander Hamilton, including love letters to his wife Eliza, will be offered up for auction at Sotheby's Jan. 18. Munoz says that reading Hamilton's private thoughts on everything from Hamilton's love life and political career to war and gardening will have a deep effect on his performance, especially details that don't appear on Broadway. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Munoz said that reading Hamilton's private thoughts on everything from his love life and political career to war and even gardening will have a deep effect on his performance, especially details that don't appear on Broadway.

Javier Munoz, left, who plays Alexander Hamilton in the Broadway megahit "Hamilton," the musical's set designer David Korins, center, and Sotheby's expert on books and manuscripts Selby Kiffer, look at a document written by or related to Hamilton, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in New York. A trove of historic American artifacts pertaining to Hamilton that belong to Hamilton's descendants will be put on the auction block on Jan. 18. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) © The Associated Press Javier Munoz, left, who plays Alexander Hamilton in the Broadway megahit "Hamilton," the musical's set designer David Korins, center, and Sotheby's expert on books and manuscripts Selby Kiffer, look at a document written by or related to Hamilton, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in New York. A trove of historic American artifacts pertaining to Hamilton that belong to Hamilton's descendants will be put on the auction block on Jan. 18. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

"Part of the awe for me is how casual so much of this is," said Munoz, who with Korins giggled as they pored over one letter in which Hamilton writes flirtatious words to his sister-in-law, Angelica Church.

People expect every word and letter of such manuscripts to be lifted to historical dimensions, Munoz said, "meanwhile, it's like, 'hey, how are you?' — you know, like my tweet to somebody, or I just texted my mom."

The letters belong to Hamilton's descendants.

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