Historical Societies Selling...

Coming up on Thursday of the week, Christie's sale of Printed & Manuscript Americana in NY has some interesting stories to tell. Why? Because the consignors include historical societies. This is considered a controversial action by some. Back in January, the New Jersey Historical Society took some heat for its consignments to Christie's, and yet here it is again, this time with early American imprints.

The NJHS is selling its "very rare" 1775 folio broadsheet, A declaration by the representatives of the United Colonies of North-America, now met in general Congress at Philadelphia... It is one of the few early documents to enumerate "the causes and necessity of taking up arms." NJHS is hoping for $10,000-15,000 for it. NJHS has consigned the folio broadsheet, The Manual Alphabet for the Deaf and Dumb (Hartford, c. 1840), at an estimate of $1,800-2,500. Other early American imprints from NJHS are also on the block.

NJHS is not alone in its need to sell pieces of its collection to pay debt and/or fund future purchases.

How about a fine "exceptionally fresh copy" of the Declaration of Independence, printed in 1833 by Peter Force from W. J. Stone's 1823 plate. Consigned by the The Historical Society of Montgomery County, PA. Its estimate is $15,000-$20,000.

The Brooklyn Historical Society has consigned several lots of autographs. One is a collection of ten American autographs, late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, including Elbridge Gerry and LaFayette. The catalogue notes that this lot will be "sold to benefit the collections fund." They hope to make $2,000-3,000 on it.

The BHS is also selling a Chang and Eng autograph signed letter, for the low estimate of $600-800, a Henry Clay als for $2,000-3,000, and a printed document with John Hancock's John Hancock for $4,500-6,000.

Any readers want to weigh in on this practice?