A 223-year-old book containing George Washington’s copies of the Constitution and Bill of Rights sold for nearly $10 million at an auction Friday evening in New York.
After an intense bidding war with an unidentified party, the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, charged with the preservation of Washington’s residence just outside the US capital, purchased the book for $9.82 million, according to Agence France-Presse.
The sale price was $8.7 million; with the commission bringing the total to nearly $10 million, according to auction house Christie’s. Original estimates were that the work could fetch between $2 million and $3 million.
The manuscript, bound by Thomas Allen of New York in 1789, was one of a set of three. The other two copies went to future President Thomas Jefferson and John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court.
The 106-page book, bound in white leather, features Washington’s signature on the document’s first page. The documents contain notes in Washington’s handwriting, including notations of the responsibilities of the president.
“It’s an exciting day. We are thrilled to be able to bring this extraordinary book back to Mount Vernon where it belongs,” said Ann Bookout, a spokeswoman for the Mount Vernon Ladies Association.
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.
About 150 people watched as a color guard in Colonial-era uniforms presented colors and fired a three-gun musket salute, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
Memorial wreaths were laid on Few’s grave by heritage groups and members of Few’s family, the publication added.
Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver and state Rep. Barbara Sims spoke on Few’s contributions ahead of the 224th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution on Saturday.
Few is largely forgotten today, but he is one of the untold-many founding fathers who helped make the United States of America a reality.
On this date 145 years ago, the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, officially abolishing slavery in the United States, was adopted.
Introduced by Representative James Mitchell Ashley (R-Ohio), the amendment was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, and the House on Jan. 31, 1865.
President Abraham Lincoln took an active role in working for its passage through the House by ensuring the amendment was added to the Republican Party platform for the 1864 Presidential elections.
The Thirteenth Amendment completed the abolition of slavery, which had begun with the Emancipation Proclamation issued by Lincoln in 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery in seceded states, but not the slave states that had remained in the Union.
Interestingly, there were two earlier amendments proposed by Congress that would have become the Thirteenth Amendment if they’d been ratified.