Of the 201 original copperplate engraved copies on vellum thought to have been printed by Stone in 1823, around 52 survive.
One of them, first presented in 1824 to Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737-1832), the last surviving signer of the original document, and later inscribed by his grandson-in-law John MacTavish (1787-1852), has surfaced in an ancestral home in Scotland.
It is due to be offered at auction by Freeman’s in Philadelphia, the city where the Declaration of Independence was originally signed in 1776, and is the last of the six original signers’ copies known still to be in private hands.
This specific copy is one of two presented to Founding Father Charles Carroll (the other is in the collection of the Maryland Center for History and Culture). It then passed to Carroll’s granddaughter and executrix Emily Caton and her husband John MacTavish and subsequently descended in a Scottish family to the present owner.
Its whereabouts was unknown for 177 years until it was discovered in the Scottish home by Cathy Marsden, specialist in rare books, manuscripts and maps at Lyon & Turnbull, Freeman’s sister auction house in Edinburgh.
Freeman’s will offer Carroll’s printed copy of the Declaration of Independence in a single lot sale on July 1.