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A rare copy of the U.S. Constitution is going up for auction. 

Sotheby’s announced on Friday, which also happens to be Constitution Day, that a copy of the U.S. Constitution will be going up for auction in November. 

The document is one of 11 surviving copies of the official first printing of the Constitution, which were produced for the Constitutional Convention delegates and for the Continental Congress.

“This is the final text,” Selby Kiffer, an international senior specialist in Sotheby’s Books and Manuscripts Department, told The Associated Press. “The debate on what the Constitution would say was over with this document. The debate about whether the Constitution was going to be adopted was just beginning.”

Ella Hall, a specialist in Books and Manuscripts at Sotheby’s, in New York, holds a 1787 printed copy of the U.S. Constitution. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

“This was the Constitution, but it didn’t take effect until it had been debated and ratified,” Kiffer added. “So this was the first step in the process of us living now under this 234-year-old document.”

Kiffer estimated that there were several hundred copies of the Constitution made originally.

This photo made available by the U.S. National Archives shows a portion of the first page of the United States Constitution. (National Archives via AP)

The copy going up for auction in November is the only one that is privately owned and is coming from the collection of Dorothy Tapper. The document is expected to bring in $15 million to $20 million. 


This is the second time Kiffer is leading the auction of this copy of the Constitution. In 1988, he spearheaded its auction, when it sold for just $165,000. 

“While it’s a lot of years later and I’ve handled a lot of great things and I’m more experienced, I have to say it’s just as exciting, if not a little bit more exciting, the second time around,” he told AP.

Ella Hall, a specialist in Books and Manuscripts, at Sotheby’s, in New York, places a 1787 printed copy of the U.S. Constitution in its display case. It’s the only copy that remains in private hands and has an estimate of $15 million-$20 million. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The copy is on public view at Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries until Sunday, when it will travel to Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas before returning to New York for auction. 

“It would have belonged to either a member of the Continental Congress or to one of the delegates to the Continental Convention. Those were the only people who had access to this first printing,” Kiffer said. “Your eye is immediately drawn to that first line, ‘We the people of the United States.’”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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