One of the most important manuscripts of all time is going under the hammer at Sotheby's this Thursday, June 17.
This is the only contemporary broadside printing of the US Declaration of Independence; set in four columns and one of just five editions issued without an imprint identifying its printer and place of publication.
Because the Declaration was produced not by government decree but for public consumption, it is today held as one of the rarest of all 1776 printings.
Of the five recorded copies, one is in a private collection and four are in institutions - Harvard University, Georgetown University, the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Peabody Essex Museum.
First printed on the evening of July 4, 1776, by John Dunlap, the text of the Declaration of Independence announced and justified America's resolution of separation from Great Britain.
Nevertheless, the document's completion was not without obstacles - including a coalition of delegates from Mid-Atlantic states, led by Pennsylvania's John Dickinson, who pushed for a cautious approach towards independence and maybe even hoped for reconciliation with Britain.
However, firebrands like the future US President John Adams won the day. On June 11, 1776, the Continental Congress appointed a committee of five members to draft the Declaration.
They were: Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, and Robert R Livingston of New York - today known as the Founding Fathers.
Jefferson was chosen to write the Declaration, thanks mainly to his "peculiar felicity of expression" (in the words of John Adams). Jefferson's rough draft is today preserved with the Jefferson Papers in the Library of Congress.
It's understood that Jefferson felt great satisfaction for the rest of his life in having been privileged to serve as chief author of this greatest of American documents.
Of the document, he later wrote that it was intended "not to find out new principles, or new arguments... it was intended to be an expression of the American mind."
Measuring approximated 17 x 14 inches on an untrimmed sheet of laid paper, unwatermarked, the copy is silked with a little light spotting, fold creases and a few pinholes, according to Sotheby's.
The July 1776 broadside printing of The Declaration of Independence will auction at Sotheby's in New York on Thursday (June 17) estimated at $600,000-800,000.
Meanwhile, if you are collector or investor with an interest in rare and valuable Presidential autographs, then this portfolio of autographs, including Washington is a must-see.
- Learn how you can get pleasure and profit from rare and historic documents
- Click here for all the latest Books & Manuscripts and Autographs news
Join our readers in 173 countries around the world - sign up for your free weekly Collectibles Newsletter today