June 2, 2016

Two Centuries of American History Totals $6.1 Million at Sotheby's

Online TOC-13th Amendment-Sothebys copy.jpgNew York, NY--May 2016--'Two Centuries of American History,' Sotheby's curated sale of Rare Books & Manuscripts charting the development of the United States of America, achieved $6,183,250 (estimate: $5.3/7.8 million). The auction was led by two highly significant documents signed by President Abraham Lincoln, the Thirteenth Amendment and the Emancipation Proclamation, and saw significant bidding by a broad spectrum of collectors.

Selby Kiffer, Senior Vice President, Books & Manuscripts commented: "It was been a privilege for Sotheby's to work alongside Seth Kaller, advisor to the Gilder Lehrman Institute, and our other consignors as we built this specially-curated sale covering 'Two Centuries of American History.' We were delighted with the results of both the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment, and are particularly pleased that proceeds from the sale of the Thirteenth Amendment are benefiting the Acquisitions Fund of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, which provides unrivaled access to primary documents to studnets, teachers, historians, and American history enthusiasts around the world." 

A limited edition of the Emancipation Proclamation, the only version with the full text to be signed by Lincoln, sold for $2,170,000, above the high estimate (estimate: $1.5/2 million). This groundbreaking document, flouished with the autographs of President Lincoln, Secretary of State William H. Seward and his personal secretary, John G. Nicolay, not only declare some 4 million to be free, but also changed the mission of the Civil War from simply preserving the Union to eradicating slavery. It is one of 27 in existence, 19 of which are in institutions. 

The Thirteenth Amendment, being sold by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to benefit their acquisitions funds, realized $2,410,000 (estimate $2/3 million). An extremely rare manuscript copy, one of three 'Senate' copies known to exist, this historic document was the first significant change to the United States' notion of civil liberties since the Bill of Rights in 1791. 

Image: The Thirteenth Amendment. Courtesy of Sotheby's.