A copy of the US Declaration of Independence up for auction

·2-min read
A copy of the US Declaration of Independence could fetch $1.5 million.

One of the most important documents in American history is heading to the auction block. A copy of the country's Declaration of Independence will be offered for sale this spring at Christie's. The historic manuscript could fetch up to $1.5 million, according to the auction house's estimates.

This document is known as the "Blood-Copley-Reese" copy of the United States Declaration of Independence. It came into existence in July 1776 after the members of the Continental Congress approved this text written by Thomas Jefferson. At that time, the Declaration was quickly disseminated throughout the 13 United States of America through the print media.

The document for sale at Christie's appeared in the July 16, 1776 issue of the American Gazette, published by John Rogers in partnership with Ezekiel Russell. It is estimated that only six copies of this version of the Declaration of Independence remain in existence, including the one auctioned in the spring. Four of them are currently housed at Georgetown University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Peabody Essex Museum.

43.2 million dollars for a first edition of the Declaration

This seminal document could be sold for between $1 million and $1.5 million. It comes from the personal collection of the late William S. "Bill" Reese, who was reputed to be the greatest antiquarian book dealer of his generation. It will be one of the highlights in a series of themed auctions starting May 25 in New York and on the Christie's website. The collection, consisting of nearly 700 lots, could fetch an estimated $12 million to $18 million.

"Seeing William Reese's private library for the first time was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. The books and artwork so clearly embody Bill's passion for history, evidenced in both written and visual culture," said Christina Geiger, Head of Department, Books & Manuscripts, Christie's New York in a press release.

Few copies of the US Declaration of Independence show up on the market. One of them sold last February for $4.42 million at Freeman's auction house, five times its high estimate. This amount set a new sales record for an American document printed in the 19th century. But the price is significantly lower than the $43.2 million for an original edition of the US Declaration of Independence sold in November at Sotheby's New York.

Caroline Drzewinski

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