Census, 1790

With the 2010 Census happening all around us here in the states, Bonhams & Butterfields' has seemingly chosen a good time to auction the very first US census from 1790, bearing the signature of then Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson (his John Hancock, seen here at left). Estimated at $80,000-120,000, this book with manuscript notes and corrections (e.g., someone scratched out the "one" in seventeen ninety-one on the title page, even though the book was published in Philadelphia in 1791) was formally titled Return of the Whole Number of Persons within the Several Districts of the United States, According to "An Act Providing for the Enumeration of the Inhabitants of the United States." This first edition was held by the family of Gideon Granger, Postmaster General under Jefferson, and is thought to be his copy.

The auction will be held in Los Angeles (and simulcast to New York) on October 4th. Another piece of Jefferson will be on the block for a much smaller sum. His signature, clipped from a larger document, is estimated at $800-1,200.