A first edition copy of parts one, two and three of Thomas Paine's The American Crisis (1776-1777) is the headline lot in Swann Galleries' New York auction of printed Americana.
The lot is valued at $120,000-180,000 ahead of the November 25 sale.
Among the defining tracts of the American Revolution, Paine's work called for the overthrow of the British government and the establishment of an independent nation.
It contains the famous opening lines, which read in part: "These are the times which try men's souls…
"Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered, yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly."
In total six pamphlets were released. The first (which contains the stirring opening lines) was read to soldiers of the Continental army prior to the battle of Trenton in 1776.
Swann comment: "Paine issued several later numbers of the American Crisis, but some of them appeared only in newspapers. These first three are generally found together, when they are found at all.
"This copy narrowly escaped destruction earlier this year. It had belonged to a collector from upstate New York. During the sorting of his estate, the American Crisis was placed in a box intended for the dumpster, but one of the heirs spotted it at the last moment."
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