Salem witch trial auction: rare chance to own '$35,000' indictment

A rare opportunity to own a document from the 17th century Salem witch trials presents itself tomorrow (March 15).

The court indictment of Margaret Scott, a woman convicted of witchcraft, comes to auction in New York with a $25,000-35,000 estimate.

The Salem witch trials of 1692 still cast a long shadow.

20 men and one woman were hanged or pressed to death for witchcraft, as mass hysteria gripped the Massachusetts town.

It is the first time a document from the trials has appeared at auction since 1983 and it is one of very few that remain in private hands.

Both factors suggest that the estimate could be a conservative one, considering the continued fascination with the trials, more than 300 years after their occurrence.

Salem witch trials
Margaret Scott was hanged five days
after this indictment

Richard Trask, an expert on the Salem witch trials, told local newspaper Newburyport News: "I've only seen witchcraft documents sold twice during my professional life.

"They are very valuable, and this is an indictment — it's an important document."

Margaret Scott was convicted for "certaine detestable arts called Witchcraft and Sorceries," and was hanged five days after the verdict.

Her accuser was Mary Daniel, a teenager at the time, who claimed Scott had inflicted "spectral torture" upon her.

The importance of documents such as these in charting the history of the US cannot be overemphasised.

It's why we're so delighted to offer this Peter Force version of the Declaration of Independence, produced just 150 years after the Salem witch trials.

We will bring you the result of the auction later in the week.

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