Copy of Declaration of Independence Found in Scottish Attic Sells for Nearly $4.5 Million

by Josh Lanier

We hold this truth to be self-evident that this is a pretty incredible story. A Scottish woman found one of the few remaining original copies of the Declaration of Independence in her attic.

Cathy Marsden, who works at the Scottish auction house Lyon & Turnbull, found the document while rummaging through some old papers. She pulled them out of her attic. She told PA Media that even at first glance the document seemed unique.

“I was looking through a pile of papers, which had been brought down from the attic, amongst which was a folded up, vellum, document. Opening it up, I could see was a copy of the Declaration of Independence,” she said.

“When I got back to the office and started doing some research, I became really excited as its significance became clearer.

“After extensive research, we confirmed it was indeed one of the 201 copies made by William Stone, of which only 48 of them are known to still exist. Being able to identify to whom the copy belonged made it even more exciting and rare.”

Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a Founding Father, who later became a U.S. Senator got the document first. Carrollton gave it to his grandson-in-law, John MacTavish, who was a Scottish-Canadian diplomat, PA Media said. And that’s how it ended up in Scotland.

In all, the Founding Fathers made 201 copies of the Declaration of Independence. The newborn nation’s leaders printed 201 copies of the document. They had them hung across over the 13 colonies. And, I assume, America’s new leaders had that extra one sent to King George III.

Declaration of Independence Sells for $4.5 Million

But not only is the document rare, it’s also unique because we know the provenance. We know who owned it and how it ended up where it did. That story helped raise the value of the piece.

Marsden auctioned off her Declaration of Independence for $4,420,000, according to TMZ. The buyer asked to remain anonymous. Only one other copy of America’s founding document has sold for more. In 2000, Norman Lear and internet entrepreneur David Hayden bought an original printing of the Declaration of Independence for $8 million, CNN reported.

Paul Roberts, vice-chairman of Lyon & Turnbull and president of Freeman’s in Philadelphia, said the company had teams on both sides of the Atlantic working on authenticating this found document.

“This was a great effort from both teams on both sides of the Atlantic, a very proud moment for me personally – an international team working in perfect harmony to achieve a wonderful result on behalf of an extremely appreciative and supportive client,” he said.

“When Cathy Marsden first showed me this document on Christmas Eve I knew it was interesting, but today’s outcome – achieving $4,420,000 on the eve of Independence Day weekend nearly 4,000 miles away – is extraordinary.”