A rare collection featuring the signatures of all 56 men who signed the US Declaration of Independence will be put up for sale by a New England auction house tomorrow.

RR Auction of Amherst, NH, is auctioning off the Proctor-Sang-Newell Collection of Signers of the Declaration of Independence. RR Auction calls the collection one of the finest quality sets ever offered for sale.

“Most of the examples are substantial-length letters, many of which feature significant historical content by some of the nation’s most important Founding Fathers,” the company writes in promotional material.

The key signature in the Proctor-Sang-Newell Collection is said to be that of Georgia signer Button Gwinnett. There are just 51 examples of his autograph known to exist – and only 11 in private hands, according to RR Auction.

Individual examples of Gwinnett’s autograph have sold for as much as $150,000, making his signature by far the most valuable American autograph.

Gwinnett, born in 1735, had a relatively short public life, being elected to the Georgia Provincial Assembly in 1769 and serving briefly as the provisional president of Georgia in 1777 before being killed in a duel later that same year.

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South Carolina legislators, once again ignoring history and human nature, tacked on additional regulations and restrictions regarding the sale of scrap copper last year, a move some said would do little to thwart the theft and illegal sale of the nonferrous metal.

Since the new law was enacted in August 2011 requiring anyone buying or selling copper to obtain a permit from their local sheriff’s offices, the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office alone has issued 9,187 two-year permits and an additional 1,076 48-hour permits, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.

But guess what? Despite the additional work required of legitimate businesses and law enforcement, it hasn’t had much of an impact on copper theft.

Major Jim Brady of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Department told the publication that the number of thefts has remained about the same.

“The problem with this whole situation obviously is when you get metal, you can’t always link it back to a specific crime …,” Brady said. “When the stuff is sold, it’s sold as scrap metal.”

Last year, I wrote a story for my previous employer on this very bit of regulation, which built on previous anti-copper theft laws passed in 2007 and 2009. At that time a lobbyist for the South Carolina Recyclers Association said then he had doubts as the wisdom of passing additional legislation to try to curb the fencing of stolen copper.

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One week after a ceremony honoring South Carolina civil rights pioneer George Elmore culminated with the erection of a historic marker in front of the downtown Columbia building he once operated, the structure was promptly razed.

Elmore ran the Waverly 5-and-10 cent store, and area mainstay, up until the late 1940s, when he dared to challenge the state’s status quo and put his name on a lawsuit that sought to end South Carolina’s practice of all-white political primaries.

Elmore’s actions led to economic reprisals and financial ruin, according to The State newspaper.

Last Friday, one week after a ceremony attended by city leaders, academics and Elmore’s descendants, the 1935 structure was reduced to a pile of rubble.

The property’s owner, First Nazareth Baptist Church, which sits next door, has not said what it will do with the razed site or why it chose to knock down the historic structure.

Not surprisingly, there is a good bit of unhappiness in area preservation circles.

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Russ Roberts of George Mason University hits the nail on the head with a thought-proving piece that identifies an intrinsic issue that arises when government moves to increase its role in the daily lives of its citizenry.

Writing at Café Hayek, Roberts pinpoints the inherent problem as one of motives versus results.

Those within the government may seek to do good through enhanced regulation and many may truly believe they are indeed doing good so, but the simple fact is that government is nearly always operated by those who can’t possibly have knowledge or information regarding the “needs, desires or dreams” of the average individual, Roberts states.

Government, therefore, is basing its decisions on an imperfect understanding of the lives of those it seeks to further regulate.

In fairness, Roberts adds, government officials can’t be expected to know the dreams, desires and needs of each and every individual. In many cases, a single person’s friends and family don’t even fully have such an understanding.

The real difficulty arises when government busybodies couch efforts to regulate the lives of its citizenry as an exercise in virtue.

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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.

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Local government is often said to be superior in many respects to state and federal government because it can respond more quickly, is said to be in better tune with the needs of its constituents and usually comes in personal contact with constituents on a far more regular basis. 

However, local government is just as capable as its bigger counterparts of entangling residents in bureaucratic red tape that leaves people confused, irritated and, often, unwittingly in violation of the law.

Take the above sign, near an elementary school in White Lake, Mich., which is in the Detroit metro area.

Instead of simply installing a flashing light when the speed limit drops to 25 miles per hour, or having wording to the effect that the speed limit is 25 miles per hour from, say, 6 a.m.-9 a.m. and again from 2 p.m.-5 p.m., officials have detailed five 30-minute periods and one 26-minute period in which the limit drops to 25 mph.

And, as one can see, they’re all oddball segments, rather than, say, 7:00 a.m.-7:30 a.m., further enhancing befuddlement.

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It’s unclear how much credence to give talk that certain well-connected South Carolina lobbyists with ties to the groundhog industry have convinced a powerful state Senator to push forward with a bill that would give the Palmetto State its very own Punxsutawney Phil.

Under the rumored proposal, a massive 12,500-acre groundhog preserve would be set up in the Pee Dee region of the state – home of said state Senator – and each Feb. 2 South Carolina would hold a ceremony of its own in which a groundhog would emerge from its home and predict the coming of spring.

Discussions have already progressed to the point that a name has been devised for the South Carolina groundhog, with the moniker “Carbuncle Cal” being bandied about, and it’s said preliminary plans have been drawn up for the preserve, which would hold up to 1,500 groundhogs.

These groundhogs would not only be available to take Carbuncle Cal’s place should he die, but would be bred and the offspring distributed to communities throughout the state, enabling towns across South Carolina to hold separate Groundhog Days of their own, with the potential to turn Feb. 2 into the state’s most lucrative holiday.

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A cohort at the S.C. Policy Council recently detailed one the most egregious examples of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do that I’ve seen in a long, long while.

Rick Brundrett highlighted the fact that while South Carolina state law required state agencies to have filed their proposed budgets for the upcoming fiscal year by last Nov. 1, the state’s General Assembly apparently doesn’t feel itself beholden to that statute.

In fact, both the S.C. House and S.C. Senate routinely unveil their proposed budgets months after other state agencies have done so, according to Brundrett’s story in The Nerve.

Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley, a state lawmaker on the House’s budget-writing committee, even acknowledged that the normal budget-hearing process traditionally hasn’t been applied to House or Senate chamber budgets.

What that means is legislative leaders can add in large budget increases for their respective chambers much later, typically at the very end of the legislative session, when the media and public are focused on the budget as a whole, rather than individual aspects.

Brundrett pointed out that the House quietly slipped in a $2.3 million increase for itself for this fiscal year on the last day for regular legislative business last June.

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For a Friday puzzler consider the following two countries and then try to determine which is more prosperous:

Belize and the Cayman Islands are both small former English-speaking British colonies located in the Caribbean with similar climates and roughly the same mixed racial heritage.

Belize has a population about six times greater than that of the Caymans, and has a much larger and more varied land area, with many more natural resources, including gas and oil, and some rich agricultural land that the Caymans lacks.

Both have nice beaches, but Belize boasts the second-largest barrier reef in the world and also has the tourist appeal of Mayan ruins.

So, which is the richer country? If you said Belize, which has been fully independent for more than 30 years, you’d be wrong.

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Like cacophonous cicadas that emerge every four years, presidential hopefuls – this time solely of the Republican variety – are buzzing about South Carolina once again, bawling out their belief in family, faith and freedom.

In fact, with the possible exception of Ron Paul, one might gather from the barrage of television and radio ads being thrown up across the Palmetto State that family, faith and freedom are the essential foundations on which the next president will have to build to ensure the future well-being of our nation.

Alas, it sounds nice, but in reality it’s nothing more than simplistic rhetoric that the media types eat up because it makes for nice short sound clips.

In reality, this type of pabulum won’t go very far in terms of improving the lot of the average American, or, for that matter, do much of anything for most Americans, except those that get elected, along with a few others that latch onto the coattails of the newly elected.

There’s one topic you can be assured will not be discussed by any of the candidates leading up to the SC Republican Primary this Saturday: the inexcusably high dropout rate evident in South Carolina, or any state, for that matter.

Oh, yes, there will be platitudes about the importance of education, about children being the future of America, and other bromides political types like to dust off and trot out around primaries and elections, but nary a one wants to field – never mind substantively answer – hard questions about the shocking number of students who don’t make it through high school.

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