Original Emancipation Proclamation Copy Sells For More Than $2 Million

By Verena Dobnik for the Huffington Post

A rare original copy of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation sold Tuesday at a New York auction for more than $2 million.

It’s the second-highest price ever paid for a Lincoln-signed proclamation – after one owned by the late Sen. Robert Kennedy that went for $3.8 million two years ago.

The latest copy of the 1863 document ordering the freeing of slaves, which was auctioned at the Robert Siegel Auction Galleries, went to David Rubenstein, managing director of The Carlyle Group investment firm. The American seller remained anonymous.

The $2.1 million purchase price includes a buyer’s premium.

This price and the one for the Kennedy copy are the highest ever paid for the proclamation, reflecting a “growing appreciation for documents that capture the most important moments in our history,” said Seth Kaller, a dealer in American historic documents and expert on the Emancipation Proclamation; he’s handled eight signed copies.

The document will go on public exhibit somewhere in Washington, he said. The name of the institution is yet to be announced.

Lincoln signed the proclamation during the Civil War, freeing all slaves in states then in rebellion. The proclamation also provided a legal framework for the emancipation of millions of other slaves as the Union armies advanced.

Forty-eight copies were subsequently printed, with Lincoln signing all of them.

The president donated them to the so-called Sanitary Commission, a precursor of the modern Red Cross that sold the documents privately to provide medical care to Union soldiers.

Only about half of the 48 proclamation copies have survived.

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Black history ‘undertaker’ loses treasures

By Tiffany Alexander, CNN

Montague with his collection

Montague with his collection

Nathaniel Montague spent more than 50 of his 84 years chasing history, meticulously collecting rare and one-of-a-kind fragments of America’s past. Slave documents. Photographs. Signatures. Recordings.

Montague — Magnificent Montague, as he’s been known since his days as a pioneering radio DJ — amassed an 8,000-piece collection reflecting names from the well-known to the forgotten to those history never thought to remember. It’s valued in the millions; some call it priceless. One assessment of just five of the pieces puts the total value of those treasures alone somewhere between $592,000 and $940,000.

For decades Montague carted the collection of African-American artwork, artifacts and ephemera around the country with his family as he took jobs at radio stations in New York, Chicago, Oakland, and Los Angeles, and then finally to Las Vegas, where he moved 12 years ago after closing a station he built from the ground up in Palm Springs, California.

The Montague Collection was his prized possession, but because of financial woes he has lost it. It is now up for auction.

“I have not been able to maintain the collection for the last couple of years,” Montague said. While working with his wife of 56 years, Rose Casalan, to archive and prepare the collection for sale, he took out a loan to help pay for the archiving, found himself overextended financially and declared bankruptcy. His collection was seized, and it is now in the hands of a trusteeship charged with selling it to satisfy his debts, including a judgment for $325,000 plus interest and court fees.

If no one steps up to buy the collection in its entirety, Montague’s life’s work could be dismantled and sold off in pieces to pay his creditors.

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