T hirty-three years after its last appearance at public auction, an exceptionally rare and extraordinarily historic first printing of the United States Constitution returns to Sotheby’s in a dedicated one-lot auction during our series of evening sales on 18 November.
This is one of just thirteen copies of the Official Edition of the Constitution surviving from a printing of 500 issued for submission to the Continental Congress and for the use of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention. This is the very first appearance of the final text of the Constitution, now the longest continuing charter of government in the world.
The present copy was purchased from Sotheby’s by S. Howard Goldman in 1988 and was the crowning jewel of his magnificent collection of historical American books and manuscripts. After Howard’s death in 1997, his widow, Dorothy Goldman, became the custodian of the Constitution, which she made the cornerstone of a remarkable collection of primary materials that place the Constitution in historical context.
The "Official Edition" of the United States Constitution and the First Printing of the Final Text of the Constitution | We, the People of the United States...
Estimate: 15,000,000–20,000,000 USD
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During her twenty-five years of collecting constitutional documents, Mrs. Goldman made generous loans to public institutions of numerous items from her collection, including the first printing of the Constitution itself, which crisscrossed the country several times. Forty-two pieces from her collection were brought together in an exhibition entitled Colonists, Citizens, Constitutions at the New-York Historical Society from February 2020 through March 2021, before travelling to the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia.
A Republic, If You Can Keep it: The First Printing of the U.S. Constitution
The other material from the Goldman Collection—including items that preceded, and so helped to shape the Constitution, as well as items that followed, and so were influenced by the Constitution—will be offered in two allied sales, Making Our Nation: Constitutions and Related Documents, Part 1 (a live sale taking place on 23 November), and Making Our Nation: Constitutions and Related Documents, Part 2 (an online only sale, open now, and closing for bidding on 2 December). The proceeds from all three auctions will benefit the continuing efforts of the Dorothy Tapper Goldman Foundation.
The Values and Vision of the Dorothy Tapper Goldman Foundation
The Dorothy Tapper Goldman Foundation will advance the principles of America’s founding documents through educational programs for students across all media so that our young Americans can be better informed about the founding of our republic and the citizens who created the founding documents. A greater understanding of our American principles and ideas will lead to more informed citizens and voters.
It is the hope of this Foundation to further the understanding of why the acts of all citizens can make a difference. This can be accomplished through art projects, cultural institutions, educational institutions and worthy individuals. By providing strategic grants this Foundation hopes to further the understanding of our Constitutional principles.
Dorothy Tapper Goldman Foundation
A Better America: Civics, Citizens, Country