For That Hard To Buy For Uncle

Patriots toppled the statue in July 1776, but British Loyalists rescued and hid some of the fragments (Courtesy of Skinner Auctioneers)

You Could Own an Amputated Arm From the George III Statue Toppled at Bowling Green

By Meilan Solly/

Five days after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, around 40 soldiers and sailors snuck into a small Manhattan park called Bowling Green. Operating under the cover of darkness, these rebellious patriots draped ropes across the park’s centerpiece—a 4,000-pound equestrian statue of England’s reviled George III—and toppled it over. Then, they melted the monarch’s likeness down, using its remnants to cast 42,088 bullets.

As postmaster Ebenezer Hazard wrote to General Horatio Gates in the days following the act, “[The king’s] statue here has been pulled down to make musket ball of, so that his troops will probably have melted Majesty fired at them.”

The majority of the lead monument vanished in the forges, but a few fragments actually survived the incident: among others, the tail of the king’s metal horse, a piece of George III’s patterned sash, and a 20-pound segment believed to belong to the king’s cape or his horse’s mane.

Now, Michelle Young reports for Untapped New York, one of these unlikely survivors—an amputated arm unearthed in 1991—is headed to auction. Advertised as a “lead hand, wrist and forearm likely from the statue of King George III,” the artifact will go under the hammer at Skinner Auctioneers’ November 1 Historic Arms & Militaria sale, where it is expected to sell for between $15,000 and $25,000.

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