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$1.6 million sought for copy of Declaration of Independence

By Christina Romano, CNN
  • The very rare broadside is for sale by the New York Times Store
  • It was printed on or about July 13, 1776
  • The document in the National Archives was signed weeks later

New York (CNN) -- The New York Times store is selling an exceptionally rare version of the Declaration of Independence, a broadside printed about July 13, 1776, in Salem, Massachusetts. One of only six copies in existence, it can be yours for $1.6 million.

The store is selling it in conjunction with the Caren Archive, which according to its website has the most significant private collection of rare newspapers and broadsides in the United States.

"This is the first in a series of one-of-a-kind historical treasures we're selling in The New York Times Store," said Jim Mones, director of the New York Times Photo Archives and the store. "We have found that the store attracts many collectors and history lovers, so we're launching a collection of rarities -- the best of the best."

The Declaration of Independence most people think of as the original is in the National Archives in the nation's capital. That document was signed August 2, 1776. The broadside for sale at the New York Times Store predates that by at least a few weeks.

"The Declaration of Independence was voted on and approved by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, with orders for each colony to print broadsides. The broadside The Times is selling was printed days later in Salem, Massachusetts," Mones said. "The text of the Declaration stayed the same, but the title changed from July to August. It changed from A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America in General Congress Assembled to The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America."

Mones said the Caren Archives and the Times store decided on the price of $1.6 million based on the document's rarity and historical value. The seller is not being identified, and the only other copy not in a public institution is privately owned.

"Several days ago, a small tintype photograph of the outlaw Billy the Kid, estimated to sell for $200,000 to $400,000, sold for $2.3 million," Mones said. "By comparison, this original Declaration of Independence is vastly more important historically."

The store will accept the first genuine offer placed by August 10.