Sunday, July 8, 2012

Copy of Emancipation Proclamation Sells for Nearly $2.1 Million



From the New York Times, "Copy of Emancipation Proclamation Sells for Nearly $2.1 Million," A rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, the document signed by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War that freed tens of thousands of slaves and laid the foundation for the end of slavery, sold for $2.085 million at auction in New York City on Tuesday.
The sell, which included a “buyer’s premium” or commission of $235,000, is the second-highest price ever paid for a Lincoln-signed proclamation. Another copy of the document, once owned by Robert Kennedy, sold for $3.8 million two years ago. The copy sold on Tuesday was auctioned at the Robert Siegel Auction Galleries and went to David Rubenstein, managing director of The Carlyle Group investment firm. The American seller remained anonymous.


Lincoln issued the proclamation on January 1, 1863, freeing all slaves in states then in rebellion. The proclamation also provided a legal framework for the emancipation of millions of other slaves as the Union armies advanced. Forty-eight copies were subsequently printed, with Lincoln signing all of them in 1864. The copies were sold throughout the country to support Union troops.

“They have appreciated in value because it’s so powerful as a document,” said Seth Kaller, a dealer and expert in American historic documents who worked with the seller in Tuesday’s auction. “If you have an original document like this on exhibit people get a sense of the excitement,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. ‘This document changed the course of history.”


Mr. Kaller said he can locate 26 copies of the proclamation, 18 of which are in museums and libraries. Some of the privately owned copies are on loan to museums, he said. The first document signed by Lincoln is in the National Archives. His website, www.SethKaller.com, lists the location of the 26 copies.

The copy acquired by Mr. Rubinstein is his second, he said. The other is currently on loan to the White House and went there during the presidency of Barack Obama. The document Mr. Rubenstein bought on Tuesday will eventually go on public exhibit, Mr. Kaller said.


“It was really down to a couple of bidders who are major collectors of historical documents,” Scott Trepel, president of the gallery said in an interview on Wednesday. “It’s the only one I’ve sold.”

A total of nine proclamation copies have been sold publicly in the past 40 years, Mr. Kaller said. In 2010, Robert Kennedy’s family auctioned his copy for $3.8 million at Sotheby’s New York. Mr. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968, had purchased it for $9,500 in 1964, when he was U.S. attorney general and enforcing civil rights laws. “Kennedy was a document collector,” Mr. Kaller said. “He bought this as he was working on the unfinished business of the Civil War.” (source: The New York Times)


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