THRIFT SHOP BAR­GAIN

$2.48 for copy of Dec­la­ra­tion that may fetch $250,000 at auc­tion

Chicago Sun-Times - - News -

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

—MANDY LUNN/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...

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