A rare copy of the US Constitution is to be auctioned by Sotheby’s later this year.
The auction house announced on Friday – appropriately Constitution Day – that the document will go up for auction in November.
It is one of just 11 surviving copies of the document from the official first printing produced for delegates at the Constitutional Convention and for the Continental Congress.
Made in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787, it is also the only copy that remains in private hands and is estimated to be worth between $15m and $20m.
“This is the final text. The debate over what the Constitution would say ended with this document. The debate had just begun about whether the Constitution would be adopted or not,” said Selby, an international senior expert at Sotheby’s Department of Books and Manuscripts Kiefer told the Associated Press.
“It was the Constitution, but it didn’t take effect until it was debated and ratified. So it was the first step in the process of living under this 234-year-old document we now live under.”
The document will be part of a collection of about 80 constitutional and related documents up for auction in the autumn.
Prior to this, a copy of the Constitution is on public view until September 19 at Sotheby’s Manhattan Galleries on York Avenue. It will be displayed in Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas before returning to New York for auction.
This is Mr. Kiefer’s second time handling the rare document. He also led its auction in 1988, when it sold for just $165,000.
“Although it’s many years later and I’ve handled a lot of great things and I’m more experienced, I must say it’s just as exciting, if not a little more exciting, then the second time around,” he said.
Documents from the collection of Dorothy Tapper Goldman. According to a statement from Sotheby’s, proceeds from the sale of the collection will benefit the Dorothy Tapper Goldman Foundation, which is dedicated to advancing the understanding of American democracy and how the actions of all citizens can make a difference.
As to its original owner, Mr. Kiefer says: “It would have belonged to a member of the Continental Congress or one of the delegates to the Continental Convention. Those were the only people who had access to this first printing.”
It is estimated that several hundred copies were originally printed in the early days of America’s founding.
“You immediately turn to that first line, ‘We the people of the United States,'” says Mr. Kiefer. The document includes the convention’s accompanying resolutions and its letter, in the name of George Washington, to Congress to submit the constitution for consideration.
The first printing of the Constitution is quite rare compared to the first printing of the Declaration of Independence, one of the few documents in history that can be compared in terms of importance and impact.
With reporting by The Associated Press
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /