Alright, American history buffs. It’s your time to shine. Well, one of you with a spare $15 million laying around, at least. In honor of Constitution Day, let’s take a look at what’s happening in the world of rare historical documents. An early copy of the U.S. Constitution is set for auction in November. It’s estimated to fetch upwards of $15-20 million.
None other than Sotheby’s is handling the auction itself. They are the current caretakers of the U.S. Constitution copy and have done extensive research.
According to FOX News, the copy is one of 11 that have survived since the first printing. They would have been used while the Constitutional Convention was underway. Selby Kiffer, a specialist with Sotheby’s Books and Manuscripts Department, estimates that only a few hundred of these copies ever existed.
“This is the final text. The debate on what the Constitution would say was over with this document. The debate about whether the Constitution was going to be adopted was just beginning. “This was the Constitution, but it didn’t take effect until it had been debated and ratified. So this was the first step in the process of us living now under this 234-year-old document,” Kiffer told the Associated Press.
This particular copy of the U.S. Consitution is the only one thought to be privately owned. It comes from a collector named Dorothy Tapper. And this is only the second time the document will change hands since the late 1980s. In fact, Selby Kiffer was the one to handle the last sale in 1988.
“While it’s a lot of years later and I’ve handled a lot of great things and I’m more experienced, I have to say it’s just as exciting, if not a little bit more exciting, the second time around,” Kiffer added.
Who Would Have Owned This Copy of the U.S. Constitution Originally?
First of all, anyone in the New York area with a hankering for some American history can check the document out for themselves. Along with 80 other historically relevant pieces, the copy of the U.S. Constitution is on public display at Sotheby’s York Avenue, per FOX News.
With that out of the way, we can dive into some of the history itself. A document like this is so rare that historians can follow it back to its time. They weren’t able to specify an individual. But Selby Kiffer shed some light on who might have held this copy in the late 18th century.
“It would have belonged to either a member of the Continental Congress or to one of the delegates to the Continental Convention. Those were the only people who had access to this first printing. Your eye is immediately drawn to that first line, ‘We the people of the United States,'” Kiffer said.