View full screen - View 1 of Lot 60. United States Constitution | The earliest surviving printing of the Constitution in Virginia.
60

United States Constitution | The earliest surviving printing of the Constitution in Virginia

Estimate:

70,000 - 90,000 USD

United States Constitution | The earliest surviving printing of the Constitution in Virginia

United States Constitution | The earliest surviving printing of the Constitution in Virginia

Estimate:

70,000 - 90,000 USD

Lot sold:

176,400

USD

United States Constitution

The Federal Constitution for the United States of America, &c. We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union … do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. Richmond: Augustine Davis, 1787


4to (220 x 185 mm, uncut). Caption-title on first page, imprint at end; some browning and light dampstaining, a few marginal chips or lost corners, some pen trials on final, blank page. Half green morocco folding-case.


The earliest surviving printing of the Constitution in Virginia and one of the rarest of the contemporary regional printings of the Federal Constitution. Evans failed to locate any copies, but the North American Imprints Project locates copies at the Virginia State Library, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the New-York Historical Society. Davis clearly used a copy of the official printing of the Constitution as his copy text, since he also prints the resolution of the Convention adopting the Constitution as well as George Washington's letter referring the charter to the Continental Congress. The official edition of the Constitution probably travelled from Philadelphia to Virginia via the Great Wagon Road that went through Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and thence southwest into the Shenandoah Valley.


The Constitution is supposed to have been printed by the proprietors of the Winchester Virginia Gazette on 26 September 1787—perhaps as a broadside, although the length of the text would make this unlikely—but no copy of this presumed edition has ever been found. On the same day as the lost printing, 26 September, Augustine Davis announced in his Virginia Independent Chronicle that "Our Customers are respectfully informed that, as the Fœderal Constitution was received too late to be published in this day's Chronicle, it will be printed as a pamphlet, and handed to them on Thursday [that is, 27 September]—Non-subscribers may then furnish themselves by applying at this office." On 3 October Davis, who was also the postmaster at Richmond, advertised the Constitution as "Just Published" and for sale at the Post Office for shilling. 


Through the offices of James Madison and George Washington, Virginia played an outsized role in the creation of the Constitution, so the first printing of the text in that state is of special resonance.


REFERENCE

ESTC W42154; Evans 20804; cf. Kaminski, Saladino, et al., Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution 8:17–19

Condition as described in catalogue entry.


In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.