Declaration of Independence broadside auctions for $1.2 million



2018-01-25 09:39:02

One of the earliest and most important broadsides of the US Declaration of Independence has sold for $1.2 million.

The Massachusetts printing was the star lot of Sotheby’s Fine Printed and Manuscript Americana sale on January 17 – part of the auctioneer’s Americana Week.

While other Declaration broadsides were printed in Massachusetts, this was the authorised version.

Ezekiel Russell produced this so called “Salem Broadside” in the Massachusetts town between 18 and 20 July of 1776. That’s at most 16 days after the Founding Fathers announced the 13 colonies were no longer under British rule.

Yet it wasn’t just the broadside’s timeliness that attracted the collectors, its rarity was a key factor too. Only a handful are known to exist today, while just two others are in private hands.

One of New Haven

One of New Haven's earliest settlers owned this chair - image: Sotheby's

The price of the broadside was enhanced further by what Sotheby’s called its “fresh and beautifully preserved” condition, and the fact this was the first time this particular example had come to auction.

And don’t discount the Massachusetts factor. The colony was at the centre of the push for independence – its Declaration broadsides carry more weight than those of its cousins.

Yet the $1.2 million figure is small compared with that achieved by examples of the official nationwide John Dunlap printing of the Declaration.

Dunlap produced just 200 of these, and only four are thought to remain in private ownership. One of those four sold for $8.1 million in 2000.

Elsewhere in Sotheby’s Americana week, the celebrated mid-17th century Mansfield-Merriam Family Wainscot Armchair (thought to have been owned by one of New Haven’s first settlers) achieved $375,000.

A circa 1800 Nathan Lumbard mahogany and cherrywood tall case clock made $471,000. You will soon be able to see it for yourself at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. 

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