Woman’s 'historic' $5.8 million find in 'pile of papers'

·2-min read

A specialist in rare books and manuscripts has discovered a signer’s copy of America’s 1776 Declaration of Independence — 180 years after it went ‘missing’.

Cathy Marsden, who works for Lyon & Turnbull, told the BBC she made the incredible find while hunting for treasure at a Scottish ancestral home.

"I was looking through a pile of papers which had been brought down from the attic, amongst which was a folded up, vellum, document,” she said.

"When I got back to the office and started doing some research I became really excited as its significance became clearer.

The signer’s copy of America’s 1776 Declaration of Independence.
Cathy Marsden, who works for Lyon & Turnbull, told the BBC she made the incredible find while hunting for treasure at a Scottish ancestral home. Source: Freeman's

"After extensive research we confirmed it was indeed one of the 201 copies made by William Stone, of which only 48 of them are known to still exist.

"Being able to identify to whom the copy belonged made it even more exciting and rare."

The document was recently sold by Freeman’s Auction House in the US for A$5.8 million — five times more than its pre-sale estimate.

“This result marks the second-highest price ever paid at auction for any copy of the Declaration of Independence, and is the highest price ever paid at auction for an American document printed in the 19th century,” Freeman’s wrote on its website.

The copy of the Declaration of Independence was “first presented to Charles Carroll, the last surviving signer of the original document, and later inscribed by his grandson-in-law John MacTavish”, Freeman’s said.

The seller of the document asked to remain anonymous.

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