Declaration of Independence could sell for $500,000 in Massachusetts

This Sunday, Skinner are holding their 2010 annual books auction which carries a strong Americana theme. There are exquisite Audubon prints, photography by Edward Curtis, and a collection of early maps.

Held in conjunction with Boston's annual Book Fair, Skinner's Books & Manuscripts auction provides an impressive range of materials for both committed and novice collectors to add to their holdings.

The maps in particular appear to be startlingly undervalued at their listing of $10,000-15,000 when names like Hartmann Schedel and Waldseemuller are involved - they will be a strong investment at those prices. Those are worth watching for near the end of the auction.

Three classic manuscripts lead the sale, however:

Firstly, there is one page, from the British House of Lords and the Commission of Foreign Plantations to the Attorney General of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, ordering him to return the Charter granted to the Colony.

The document is dated May 1637. On three occasions between 1637 and 1639, the call went up from the English Parliament for the revocation of the Massachusetts Bay Charter. At the time the colony was uniquely allowed to govern itself. It is listed at $30,000-50,000.

Secondly, there is a Declaration for Taking up Arms, Second Continental Congress. A rare and important broadside dated July 6 1775 entitled "A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North-America, now met in General Congress at Philadelphia seting [sic] forth Causes and Necessity of their taking up Arms".

Although Thomas Jefferson's original text was deemed too incendiary and amended, the message is fairly clear:

"...their intemporate rage for unlimited domination, so to slight justice and the opinion of mankind, we esteem ourselves bound, by obligations of respect to the rest of the world, to make known the justice of our cause".

Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence

This is expected to sell for $40,000-60,000, but is likely to be eclipsed by another document which needs no introduction: a rare and historically important contemporary broadside printing of the Declaration of Independence.

It has descended in a New Hampshire family, whose relative, a judge, probably received this document in his official capacity. It is valued at $300,000-$500,000 in Skinner's auction which takes place on November 14 in Massachusetts and online.


Join our readers in over 200 countries around the world - sign up for your free weekly Collectibles Newsletter today

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock