Declaration of Independence copy auctioned for record $2.4 million

June 14, 1991|By New York Times News Service

NEW YORK -- A first printing of the Declaration of Independence, said to have been found in a picture frame bought at a flea market two summers ago, was auctioned for $2,420,000 yesterday at Sotheby's.

"This was a record for any printed Americana," said David Redden, the auctioneer and a senior vice president at Sotheby's Manhattan. "It was far and away the highest price for historical Americana ever."

The buyer was Donald J. Scheer of Atlanta, president of Visual Equities Inc., a fine arts investment firm. "We thought we would add historical documents to our portfolio," Mr. Scheer said, adding, "We were prepared to pay considerably more."

He stressed that he had bought the Declaration as more than just an investment. "I think this is a living document, and the words are every bit as live today," he said.

Another copy of the Declaration fetched $1,595,000 at Sotheby's in January 1990.

The document was discovered in exceptionally good condition by an unidentified Philadelphian, who paid $4 for a torn painting at a flea market in Adamstown, Pa., because he wanted the frame. The document was hidden in the backing of the painting.

Mr. Redden said he thought the man would be "rather stunned" to learn the price it had brought.

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