Saturday, June 23, 2012

George Washington Book Sets Record, Heads "Home"

A copy of the laws passed by the first session of the First Congress, bound for George Washington and containing marginal notes in his hand, set an auction record yesterday for an American book or historical document, fetching $9,826,500 including premiums. See the Christie's catalog description or the LT record (newly updated).

The buyer, we found out fairly quickly, was the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association on behalf of Mount Vernon, where librarians are working to reconstruct Washington's library as part of the new Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington (upcoming next year). There was a brief bidding war over the book before all was said and done, but Ann Bookout, regent of the Ladies' Association board, carried the day.

Among printed books, only Audubon's Birds of America has sold for more at auction (the Hesketh copy, sold for $11.5 million at Sotheby's in December 2010).

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