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New York | Gulian C. Verplanck's copy of the first constitution of the state of New York

Estimate:

15,000 - 20,000 USD

New York | Gulian C. Verplanck's copy of the first constitution of the state of New York

New York | Gulian C. Verplanck's copy of the first constitution of the state of New York

Estimate:

15,000 - 20,000 USD

Lot sold:

69,300

USD

New York

Constitution of the State of New-York.Fish-kill, [New York]: Printed by Samuel Loudon, 1777


8vo (178 x 108 mm). Browned throughout, first quire dampstained along inside margin, leaves trimmed close along bottom margins, touching text on A2v and costing most signatures and catchwords. Nineteenth-century maroon morocco paneled and lettered gilt on front cover, smooth spine, marbled endpapers, edges gilt; board edges lightly rubbed.


First edition of the first constitution of the state of New York, written by John Jay. When the British occupied New York City, the constitutional convention fled to White Plains, Fish-kill, and Kingston. Jay's draft was adopted in Kingston on 20 April 1777. The accepted constitution was then printed by Samuel Loudon, the state printer, who had also fled New York for Fish-kill. There is another issue put out by Loudon the same year, 34 pages, which is probably later as it reports on the last page the formation of a “committee to prepare and report a plan for organizing and establishing the government, agreed to by this convention.”


Unlike the 1776 constitution of Pennsylvania, the New York constitution provided for a bicameral legislature, a governor, and a supreme court. Veto power over legislation was vested in a council of revision consisting of the governor, the chancellor, and three justices of the supreme court. When James Madison conceived of the new Constitution for the United States in 1787, New York's was a model for him.


Gulian Crommelin Verplanck's copy with his note on the rarity of the edition: "I know of but two other copies of this original edition of the first Constitution of the State of New York." Verplanck, a New York Congressman, proposed changes to the Constitution in 1846 and 1868. It is indeed rare: American Book Prices Current records two copies sold at auction in 2015 (lacking title-page and final blank) and 2012 (lacking final blank), while Rare Book Hub, locates three copies in dealer catalogues between 1949 and 1956, and a duplicate from the New York Historical Society sold at Parke-Bernet in 1944. We have located copies at the Library of Congress, the New York Historical Society, and the British Library.


REFERENCE

Colonists, Citizens, Constitutions 7; ESTC W16468; Evans 18059; Sabin 53626; Vail, "A Patrioric Pair of Peripatetic Printers..." in Essays Honoring Lawrence C. Wroth, p. 399


PROVENANCE

Gulian C. Verplanck (1786–1870), (note on verso of front free endpaper)

Condition as described in catalogue entry.


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