The First Edition of the United States Declaration of Independence will go on sale | USA News


One of the first contemporary editions of the Declaration of Independence will go on sale later this year in a private library auction of William S Reese, the most important antiquarian book dealer of his generation.

“Bill” Reese’s collection, including printed works, historical prints, fine art and color plate books, will be among the most valuable sales of Americana in print for more than 50 years, Christie’s said, giving it a “conservative” presale. estimate of 12 to 18 million dollars.

The Declaration of Independence edition is probably the first edition printed in New England and almost exactly matches the typesetting used for the edition printed in the July 16, 1776, issue of the American Gazette.

Only six copies are on record, four of which are housed at institutions such as Georgetown University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the Peabody Essex Museum. It is estimated to sell for between $1 million and $1.5 million.

Christina Geiger, head of books and manuscripts at Christie’s New York, said seeing Reese’s private library for the first time “was one of the most exciting experiences of my life.”

She added: “The books and artwork so clearly embody Bill’s passion for history, evident in both written and visual culture. The library was a special place of sanctuary and adventure, of intellectual rigor and humor, of grandeur and accessibility – all held in exquisite balance with exceptional taste.

William Reese Collection in situ. Christina Geiger, books and manuscripts manager at Christie’s New York, said seeing Reese’s private library for the first time “was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life.” Photo: Christie’s

Born in 1955, Reese was a prominent figure in the American antiquarian with a keen interest in natural history, government and politics, travel and literature. He founded the William Reese Company of New Haven, Connecticut, in 1979, and over the next 40 years the company became the leader in the American market.

The antiquarian book business was located adjacent to the Yale University campus and housed over 18,000 items. Reese also worked closely with Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library to shape his Americana collections. In 1998 he established the Reese Fellowship in the Print Culture of the Americas, which has provided research fellowships to over 150 scholars.

Other auction highlights include a copy of Paul Revere’s 1770 engraving of the Boston Massacre (estimated at $250,000-$300,000), a first edition of “General History of Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles” by John Smith of 1624 ($300,000 to $500,000). ), and rare editions by John James Audubon and Herman Melville.

A series of live, online themed auctions will be held in New York City starting May 25, and highlights from the collection will be unveiled to the public at an exhibition that opened Thursday and runs until to January 28, marking the first time in over 30 years that part of the current collection has been on public display.


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