Auction News

$8 million estimate for US Declaration, Constitution and Bill of Rights


You could own one of the earliest printings of each of the United States’ founding documents. If you have around $8 million to spare. 

The three documents will be sold at Sotheby’s in New York on June 26. 

The copy of the Declaration of Independence is a printing from July 11, 1776. Only five copies of the John Holt printing are known to survive, and this is the only one in private hands. 

While published with a newspaper, the pages of the Declaration were designed to be displayed, and it is likely that many of them were and did not survive the experience. 

It carries an estimate of $2.5 million to $5 million.

On paper. A detail of the Constitution from the Pennsylvania Packet.

A copy of the Constitution is also from a newspaper. It was printed by John Dunlap and David Claypole (who were involved with other early US state documents) just two days after the Official Edition of the document was produced. 

Their newspaper, The Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser, was completely turned over to the text of the document for one edition. 

This copy was previously sold in 1987 for $110,000 and now carries an estimate of $700,000 to $1 million.

The Bill of Rights is the United States’ third founding document. 

It contains the first 10 amendments made to the constitution, many of which have entered parlance: the First Amendment guarantees free speech, the much discussed Second Amendment is a right to bear arms, and the fifth is the right to due process and against self incrimination in a trial. 

This printing is one of three broadsheet examples. It was printed by Hall and Sellers for the Pennsylvania Assembly. One hundred copies were made, but were thought destroyed until this one was recently discovered in the J Robert Maguire collection. 

It carries an estimate of $1 million to $2 million. 

The most valuable US constitutional document was sold by Sotheby’s in 2021 for $43.2 million. It was the first edition printed for the Constitutional Convention, one of just 14 known copies. 

That set a record for any book or document and more than doubled its top estimate.

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