George Washington’s 223-year-old copies of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the latter of which includes 12 amendments, not the 10 that were eventually ratified, could fetch up to $3 million when it goes up for auction next week.
The documents, to be offered by Christie’s auction house June 22 in New York, are bound in a book that contains notes in Washington’s handwriting, including notations of the responsibilities of the president, according to The Associated Press.
The copy of the Constitution, bound by Thomas Allen of New York in 1789, was one of a set of three. The other two copies went to Thomas Jefferson and John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, according to the wire service.
Thomas Lecky, head of Christie’s books and manuscripts department, said Washington’s documents will rate among the more notable items sold by the elite auction house, ranking with one of Shakespeare’s first folios, Abraham Lincoln’s 1864 victory speech, and three copies of John James Audubon’s “Birds of America.”
The book is in exceptional condition because of its high-quality paper and the care that its previous owners had shown for it, Christie’s senior specialist for books and manuscripts Chris Coover said.
“The paper hosting the articles that serve as a foundation for the country’s laws were thick and largely unmarked, save for Washington’s own notes, scribbled in pencil in the margins,” according to The Associated Press. “Most of the notes showed sections bracketed off and marked ‘president,’ indicating the duties and responsibilities Washington saw as his own.”
The book is roughly three-quarters of an inch thick with a bright brown calfskin cover. It not only features Washington’s signature but also personal notes, written in the margins of the text, and Washington’s personal bookplate displaying his family crest, according to the Washington Examiner.