Issued in 1824, nearly half a century after the event, a copy of the celebrated Stone facsimile of the Declaration of Independence led a recent Americana sale at a high-estimate $800,000 (£615,385).
Sold at Sotheby’s New York (25/20/12.9% buyer’s premium) on January 24 by a direct descendant of the original recipient, a Major Thomas Emory of Centreville, Maryland. It was bought by financier and philanthropist David Rubenstein but is to be loaned to a so-far un-named Washington DC institution, said the auctioneers.
This famous facsimile of the fragile original was commissioned in 1820 by then secretary of state, John Quincy Adams and painstakingly engraved on copper by William J Stone.
Only weeks earlier, at Christie’s New York (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) on December 4, a previously unrecorded and remarkably well-preserved example of the Stone facsimile had claimed what was to prove a short-lived record at $700,000 (£551,180).
The Christie’s copy was said to have been found at an outdoor market in France in the 1970s.
Sold at $380,000 (£292,310) in the January sale at Sotheby’s was a volume containing what was described as “probably the finest copy extant of the first book-form printing of the Declaration of Independence”.
Preserved with five other significant pamphlets of the period, including a third edition of Thomas Paine’s inspirational revolutionary pamphlet, Common Sense, is a copy of the patriot printer, Robert Bell’s July 8 edition of the declaration.
Sold at a record $700,000 (£538,460) was a January 1784 broadside printing by John Dunlap, the official printer to Congress, of America’s ratification of the Treaty of Paris. This proclamation was the document that officially brought an end to the war.
In 1979 this copy had sold for $2600 in the same rooms as part of the Sang collection and in 2007 returned to sell at $250,000.
A first edition, second state copy with original colouring of Paul Revere’s famous depiction of The Bloody Massacre perpetrated in King Street Boston on March 5th 1770… sold for $290,000 (£223,075).
Contemporary witnesses, chroniclers and those involved later told very different stories of what actually happened, but Revere’s print and poem, issued within a very few weeks of the “fateful brawl”, quickly achieved iconic status and is one of the more successful examples of political propaganda of all time.
That Christie’s New York sale also featured an item from the pre-revolutionary era that made a record sum. Sold at $100,000 (£78,740) was a 1716 first of Thomas Church’s Entertaining Passages relating to Philip’s War… Based on his father’s notes of events, it offers in part a vivid and informative account of a 1675-78 conflict between New England colonists and the native Indians.
Their leader, the Wampanoag chief Metacom, had taken the name Philip in honour of his father’s more friendly relations with the colonists.
Formerly part of the library of the US dealer and collector Kenneth Nebenzahl, this copy had sold for $45,000 in the same rooms in 2012.