THRIFT SHOP BARGAIN
$2.48 for copy of Declaration that may fetch $250,000 at auction
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A rare, 184-year-old copy of the Declaration of Independence found by a bargain hunter scouring a thrift shop is being valued by experts at about 100,000 times the $2.48 purchase price.
Michael Sparks, a music equipment technician, is selling the document in an auction March 22 at Raynors’ Historical Collectible Auctions in Burlington, N.C. The opening bid is $125,000 and appraisers have estimated it could sell for nearly twice that.
“I’m told that it could go for between $200,000 and $300,000,” Sparks said.
In a tale worthy of PBS’ ‘‘Antiques Roadshow,’’ Sparks found his bargain last March while browsing at Music City Thrift Shop in Nashville. When he asked the price of the yellowed, shellacked, rolled-up document, the clerk marked it $2.48.
One of 200 printed in 1823
Sparks forked over the money and walked out with what turned out to be an ‘‘official copy’’ of the Declaration of Independence — one of 200 commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1820 when he was secretary of state and printed by William Stone in 1823.
‘‘I saw that it said 1823 and I knew that the declaration was 1776, and I was just interested. It also said ‘by order of the government,’ ’’ Sparks said.
But he didn’t know he had such a valuable piece until doing some online research and then having appraisers at Raynors’ offer an opinion.
‘‘When we quickly looked at it there was no question that it was authentic,’’ said Raynors’ president, Bob Raynor. The document matched other authenticated official copies based on the size of certain random letters and the placement of the names of Adams and Stone.
Sparks said he has paid about $4,000 to have the document conserved by removing shellac. AP
Michael Sparks holds a rare 184-year-old copy of the Declaration of Independence Wednesday in Nashville, Tenn. Sparks found the document at a thrift shop and is selling it next month in an auction. The opening bid is $125,000, but experts say the...