In 1820, the Declaration of Independence was starting to show signs of wear and tear, 44 years after it was first produced.

Engraver William Stone was commissioned to create an exact copper facsimile, by then Secretary of State John Quincy Adams.

It is from that copper facsimile, that all subsequent copies have originated.

Then, in 1848, archivist and historian Peter Force printed copies of William Stone's copper engraving for inclusion with his book American Archives: A Documentary History of the United States of America, Series V, Volume I.

Force's copy of the Declaration has become a rare collectors' items.

But Mercy College didn't realise this when they were disposing of their library archives to BetterWorldBooks...

BetterWorldBooks is a social enterprise, taking donated books that libraries and schools would otherwise throw out.

It sells them via an online marketplace, and reinvests a portion of the profits in literacy programs and non-profit partners, like Books for Africa.

When BetterWorldBooks discovered the Declaration, their Antiquarian, Rare and Collectible Department organized an auction, eventually selling the book and map for $16,000.

Much of that money will be donated to the Mercy College library and literacy partners.

The find has prompted BetterWorldBooks to update its commission policy in an effort to expand its collective of rare and out of print books. It will now offer to sell rare books for a 50% commission.

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