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Sotheby’s to auction rare first printing of U.S. Constitution By Reuters


© Reuters. An extremely rare official first-edition printed copy of the U.S. Constitution as adopted by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, which will auctioned off in mid-November 2021 by Sotheby’s in New York, is seen in this hand

By Dan Fastenberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) – An extremely rare official first-edition printed copy of the U.S. Constitution will be put up for bid by Sotheby’s in mid-November, the auction house said on Friday.

Sotheby’s announced the sale on Friday, the 234th anniversary it was signed by the Constitutional Convention delegates. It is expected to sell for $15-$20 million.

Selby Kiffer (Senior Specialist for Books and Manuscripts at Sotheby’s) stated that “it’s the official printing. The first printing of the United States Constitution text probably on the 16th of September 1787.”

It is also the last one not to be kept in an institution’s permanent collection.

In 1988 it sold for $165,000, and was then purchased by S. Howard Goldman in New York. Goldman is a New York realty developer who also collects autographs and historical documents.

The auction house stated that Dorothy Tapper Goldman is the one who will be selling it. All proceeds go to the charity foundation she established to improve public understanding of democracy.

To the Constitutional Convention’s delegates, copies from that initial printing were given, which had no signatures. At the Library of Congress, there are two surviving copies.

Sotheby’s stated that the Constitution’s original printing was more rare than the 1776 Declaration of Independence’s.

The seven articles that set the foundation for the U.S. government, their powers and relationship with the States, as well as the procedures to amend and ratify the Constitution, are the only ones included in the original document.

The Bill of Rights was the collection of 10 initial amendments to Constitution. It wasn’t published until 1791.

While the document was not signed, it contains six pages that include a list and submissions from George Washington.

Considered the world’s oldest and most current codified government charter, the U.S. Constitution was designed to replace the country’s original, inefficient Charter, the Articles of Confederation.

The Constitution was adopted by all the States in 1788. It went into effect that year. Since then, it has been modified 27 times.

Sotheby’s stated that the Goldman Copy would be up for bidding at an event in New York sometime during November.

Kiffer stated that there were intense debates over whether the document should be ratified. These debates are ongoing today. “It’s the fundamental document that will last long past the current political environment.