George Washington’s copies of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, both of which are 223 year-old, are scheduled to hit the auction block at Christie’s next week. The documents, which are bound in a book containing notes by the first President of the United States himself, were made available to the press earlier this week. Those who are looking to own a piece of history will have an opportunity to do so on June 22nd.
Potential bidders better have plenty of money in the bank, as the documents are expected to fetch upwards of $3 million. What separates this copy from those given to President Thomas Jefferson and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court John Jay are the numerous notations written by Washington in the margins of the documents. Adding to the book’s value is Washington’s signature, which appears in the top right corner of the title page.
Thomas Lecky, who heads up Christie’s books and manuscripts department, stated that Washington’s copy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights ranks among the most notable items the auction house has ever made available for sale. Previous noteworthy documents that have been auctioned off include Shakespeare’s first folios, Abraham Lincoln’s 1864 victory speech, and three copies of John James Audubon’s “Birds of America”.
Following Washington’s death in 1799, the documents were housed in the President’s Mount Vernon library until his relatives made the decision to sell them. Since then, they’ve made their way through a number of owners, eventually ending up in the possession of H. Richard Dietrich, Jr, an art collector and successful businessman. Dietrich passed away in 2007.