July 20, 2019 09:00 AM EDT Asheville, North Carolina


Benjamin Trott, Portrait Miniature

(New Jersey/New York/Pennsylvania, 1770-1843) 

Judge James Iredell, US Supreme Court, George Washington appointee, unsigned, watercolor on ivory, casework in burnished bezel with brightwork fillet, verso metal surround and window with braided hair, 3 x 2-1/8 in.; with red leather case


In 1790, a young thirty-eight year old lawyer was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States by President George Washington. James Iredell had already served North Carolina as the comptroller of the Port of Edenton. In 1771, he was admitted to the bar after reading law under Governor Samuel Johnston, a fellow Edentonian. In 1773, Iredell married Johnston's sister, Hannah, joining these two influential families. During the Revolution he organized the court system and compiled and revised laws which were published in Iredell's Revisal. He is considered North Carolina's greatest essayist, having contributed many ideas that informed the authors of the Declaration of Independence. His treatise, Principles of the American Whig, published in 1776, outlining that mankind was intended to be happy, second, that government's role is to secure freedom and happiness for the people and third, to define the principles of British legal abuses. He served as the state's Attorney General from 1779-1781. As the leader of the Federalists in North Carolina, he strongly supported the ratification of the Constitution at the convention in 1788, though it failed to pass. After the inclusion of the Bill of Rights, Iredell's efforts succeeded with the Constitution being ratified in 1789.

James Iredell died as a result of his travels as a Supreme Court Justice at the age of forty-eight. His son would become the twenty-third Governor of North Carolina.

References: Johnson, Dale T. American Portrait Miniatures in the Manney Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1990, pp. 215-217;


Provenance:By descent in Iredell/Johnston family


good condition; glass with cracks, abrasions to metal; leather case with abrasions

Estimate: $8,000 - $12,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

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