First edition US constitution copy sells for $43million after investor outbids crypto crowd-funders

The US constitution was adopted in Philadelphia in 1787 and submitted to the Constitutional Congress for review in September that year.

Almost 500 copies of the document were made at the first printing of the text later that year and given to the Congress’ delegates.

Thirteen copies were given to each of the 13 colonies of Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina, for ratification.

Only 11 of those copies have survived today.  Nine of them are in museums, including two in the US’ Library of Congress, six in other institutions in the US and one in London. The other two are privately owned and held in the US.  

The first constitutional printing versions contain only the seven original articles laying out the framework for the US national government and its powers, its relationship to the states and procedures used to subsequently ratify and amend the Constitution itself. 

The document was ratified in 1788 following lengthy debates between factions of Federalists and anti-Federalists. 

But by June 1788, a minimum of nine of the 13 states had ratified the constitution. By the end of July, two more states had ratified the document and the process of organizing a new government started in earnest.  

Almost 500 copies of the constitution were made at the first printing of the text of the Constitution, as adopted in Philadelphia and submitted to the Continental Congress for review with only 11 of these surviving today

The copy sold Thursday was one of the last privately owned versions and was held by Dorothy Tapper. 

It was last sold by Sotheby’s in 1998 when it went for $165,000 to Tapper’s wife, S. Howard Goldman, a New York real estate developer and private collector of American autographs, historical documents and manuscripts.   

Written on handmade paper with a very high cotton-rag content, NPR reported, the document is so well preserved the new owner could pick it up, hold it and read it. 

Meanwhile the master version is located in the National Archives Museum in Washington DC alongside the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. 

Regarded as the oldest, continuing codified government charter in the world, the US Constitution was devised to replace the young nation’s first, largely inefficient charter, the Articles of Confederation.  

It has been amended 27 times since.