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The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 39, September 30, 2007, Article 19

SOTHEBY'S TO AUCTION NATIONAL ARCHIVE'S DISPLAY COPY OF THE MAGNA CARTA

It's non-numismatic, but bibliophiles may be interested to know
that an original of one of the world's most famous documents is
heading to the auction block.  Readers John and Nancy Wilson also
noticed this announcement.  They write: "The Magna Carta will be
sold by Sotheby's.  We collect ephemera and historical documents,
but this item is way out of our league (estimates $20 to 30 Million)."

[Below are excerpts from the New York Times article forwarded by
the Wilsons, followed by excerpts from a piece in the Art Daily
newsletter.  -Editor]

"It is the document that laid the foundation for fundamental
principles of English law. Angry colonists complained long before
the Boston Tea Party that King George III had violated it. The men
who drafted the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights
borrowed from it.

"It is Magna Carta, agreed to by King John of England in 1215 and
revised and reaffirmed through the 13th century. The tail dangling
off the page is a royal seal."

"Until last week, this copy was on display in the National Archives
in Washington, steps from the Declaration of Independence and the
Constitution. But it was only on loan from a foundation controlled
by the Texas billionaire Ross Perot, who bought it in 1984 for
$1.5 million.

"The foundation told the archives this month that it had decided
to end the loan and take back Magna Carta. Its departure came so
suddenly that the archives did not have time to remodel the display
case or fill it with some of the nine billion documents from the
archives' own collection."

"Mr. Redden arranged the Magna Carta auction quietly, so quietly
that Sotheby’s did not tell its own employees why it was changing
arrangements for other auctions. James Zemaitis, the director of
Sotheby’s 20th-century design department, said he was asked to
give up a room at Sotheby’s headquarters on York Avenue at East
72nd Street that he had reserved for a pre-auction exhibition
of his own.

"“All they told me was: ‘David Redden is selling this really
important document, the most important document of all. Can you
give up this room for us?’ ” he recalled. “And I’m like, ‘Sure,
but what is he selling, the Magna Carta?’ ”"

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

"David Redden, Vice Chairman of Sotheby’s, said, “The Magna Carta
is the first rung on the ladder to freedom, followed by the great
American charters of freedom - the Declaration of Independence,
the Bill of Rights and The Gettysburg Address. This document
symbolizes mankind’s eternal quest for freedom; it is a talisman
of liberty.”

"...here is a law which is above the King and which even he must
not break. This reaffirmation of a supreme law and its expression
in a general charter is the great work of Magna Carta; and this
alone justifies the respect in which men have held it. --Winston
Churchill, 1956."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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