On June 22, at Christie’s New York, George Washington’s annotated copy of the Constitution and Bill of Rights (1789) sold for $9,826,500, setting a new world auction record for an American book or historical document. After 223 years, it remains in near-pristine condition, with Washington’s bold signature and his armorial bookplate. Remarkably, in the margins of the Constitution, Washington has added careful brackets and marginal notes. These notations highlight key passages concerning the President’s responsibilities, testifying to Washington’s careful, conscientious approach to his powers and responsibilities in his ground-breaking first term.
Chris Coover, Senior Specialist of Books and Manuscripts, commented: “George Washington’s annotated copy of the Constitution and Bill of Rights (1789) sold for an extraordinary $9,826,500 -- a world auction record for any American book or historical document. A number of bidders competed pursued this exceptional item, but in the end the successful bidder was a representative of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union, the non-profit educational organization which owns and operates the historical site and museum of George Washington’s Virginia home. The unique book had been in the Mount Vernon library until 1876 and will soon be returned to that library.”