Declaration of Independence Brings $1.5 Million at Auction

Kip Blanchard closed a Nov. 11 auction for a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence at $1.5 million, well above estimates. The sale was live-streamed on Facebook.

The $1.5 million sale of an extremely rare copy of the Declaration of Independence was almost a footnote in an auction on Saturday morning in which a set of papers related to the history of East Hampton went for $290,000. Initial estimates for the Declaration were $500,000 to $1 million and between $25,000 and $50,000 for the papers.

Kip Blanchard of Blanchard's Auction Service in Postdam, N.Y. handled the sale.

Both the 1776 John Holt printing of the Declaration of Independence and the other material had been handed down in the Mulford family for generations. The Declaration originally belonged to Col. David Mulford, who led a Revolutionary War regiment. Mulford died in 1778.

The other material spanned the period from the 17th century to the War of 1812 and included prosaic household accounts, wills, and broadsides issued by the British calling for the surrender of colonial rebels. Among the intriguing documents was an accounting of expenses for the seach for an escaped slave who had been owned by a member of the Gardiner family of Gardiner's Island.

Bidding for the Declaration started at $1 million and rose quickly to the final $1.5 million. The lot containing the rest of the paper opened at $50,000 with several bidders on the phone competing with others in the hall. The price jumped first in $10,000 increments then by $5,000. An in-person bidder won at $290,000, to a burst of applause.

Dennis Fabisazak, the director of the East Hampton Library, had been on the phone hoping to acquire the papers for the library's Long Island Collection, however, he was quickly out-priced. He said that he was very disappointed.

A 20 percent buyer's premium will be added to the winning bids

A 1776 copy of the Declaration of Independence that was sold on Saturday had been in the same family's possession for more than 240 years.Blanchard's Auction Service