Charles Carroll's Copy of the Declaration of Independence

Charles Carroll's Copy of the Declaration of Independence

Discovered in Scotland, Offered in Philadelphia

Our sister auction house, Freeman’s, is pleased to announce the sale of a signer’s copy of William J. Stone’s 1823 printing of the Declaration of Independence recently rediscovered in Scotland by Lyon & Turnbull. Freeman’s will present this historically significant document in a single-lot auction on Thursday 1 July 2021 in Philadelphia, at an estimate of $500,000-800,000 + fees. 

First presented to Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737-1832), the last surviving signer of the original document, and later inscribed by his grandson-in-law John MacTavish (1787-1852), this rare document is the last of the six signers’ copies known to still be in private hands.

 

William J. Stone’s 1823 printing of the Declaration of Independence

Lot 1 | [Stone, William J.]In Congress, July 4, 1776. The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America | $500,000 - $800,000 + fees
To be sold | Freeman's | This Important State Paper: Charles Carroll’s Copy of the Declaration of Independence | 1 July 2021 | 12pm EDT

 

Commissioned by then-Secretary of State John Quincy Adams in 1820, Stone’s copperplate engraving on vellum is considered the most accurate representation of the original 1776 document. This specific copy is one of two presented to Founding Father Charles Carroll of Carrollton in 1824 (the other is in the collection of the Maryland Center for History and Culture). It then passed to Carroll’s granddaughter and executrix Emily Caton and her husband John MacTavish, and subsequently descended in a Scottish family to the present owner. Prior to its discovery in an ancestral Scottish home by our Rare Books, Manuscripts & Maps Specialist, Cathy Marsden, the document had been unaccounted for for 177 years.

“It was a wonderful surprise to find the Stone facsimile unknowingly hidden in the family home,” says Marsden. “What at first glance appeared to be an unassuming old document nestled within a pile of papers, has turned out to be a fascinating and important piece of American history.”

According to Seth Kaller’s current census of the Stone facsimiles, of the original 201 copies printed, approximately 52 survive.

Says Darren Winston, head of Freeman’s Books and Manuscripts department, “I marvel that this amazing document probably left America in the mid-19th century on a sailing ship bound for the British Isles, then likely continued by horse-drawn coach or rail—or both—to Scotland, and the whole journey probably took six weeks. 177-odd years later, it was rediscovered and shipped back across the Atlantic, this time by automobile and airplane, and it took two days. That’s not just a long time between trips; that’s practically the entire history of transportation! Now, not only has it returned ‘home,’ but it is about to be offered for sale in the same city where its original owner put quill to paper on August 2, 1776, and signed his name in support of American independence.”

Founded in 1805 mere blocks from Independence Hall, Freeman’s is America’s oldest auction house, and throughout its storied history has had the privilege of stewarding the sale of numerous historically significant items, including the 1969 sale of John Dunlap’s 1776 broadside of the Declaration of Independence, which sold for an unprecedented $404,000 ($2.97 million in today’s dollars). Freeman’s forthcoming 1 July 2021 sale continues this long-standing tradition, offering collectors the opportunity to own a piece of previously-unaccounted-for American history. 

Freeman's and Lyon & Turnbull formed a strategic marketing alliance in 2000. United by a shared commitment to customer service and special focus on single-owner collections, the two companies have successfully staged a wide range of joint international projects over the last two decades including specialist auctions in Hong Kong and London as well as exhibitions and events on both sides of the Atlantic.

 


 

Forthcoming Auction

 

This Important State Paper:

Charles Carroll’s Copy of the Declaration of Independence

Freeman's | 1st July 2021 | 12pm EDT

 

The auction preview will be held at Freeman’s 2400 Market Street Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from June 17 to June 30, by appointment only. The document will be exhibited alongside Americana highlights from single-owner collections to be offered at Freeman’s this fall.

 

View the auction ⇒

 


 

Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs

 

Lyon & Turnbull’s dedicated team of Rare Books, Manuscripts & Maps specialists have established an international reputation for their auctions, selling both through our UK auction house, and via live online auctions. Our specialists are experts not only on books and manuscripts, but also on current market conditions, an essential combination to the successful sale of fine antiquarian books, modern first editions, folios, autographed letters and important archives.

 

Learn more about the department ⇒

 

 

Recent Articles