Sale of Emancipation Proclamation Duplicate Bolsters Conservation and Care of Historical Society Collection

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania sold a rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln to an anonymous buyer March 23. This document was one of two in the Historical Society’s collection. The sale price set a record for this type of document.

The proceeds from the sale will be placed in a board-restricted fund, which will be used for the care and conservation of the Historical Society’s collection, as per the guidelines of the American Association for State and Local History.

“We are pleased that the anonymous buyer has agreed to loan the document to other museums, so it can be viewed and enjoyed by the public,” said Kim Sajet, president and CEO. “The funds generated from the sale will help us better care for the 21 million documents, manuscripts, and graphics in our collection.”

This copy of the Emancipation Proclamation was printed by Charles Godfrey Leland and George Henry Boker and signed in June of 1864 as a special souvenir to be sold for the benefit of the Philadelphia Great Central Sanitary Fair. The Sanitary Fairs were created to raise money for the sick and wounded soldiers. The fair was held in Logan Square in Philadelphia and had the honor of being the only event of this kind attended by President Lincoln. Autographs of leading Americans were often sold at the Sanitary Fairs. However, only the Great Central Fair commissioned a printing of the Proclamation. Just 48 copies were printed. How many were signed by Lincoln remains in question. Very few survive anywhere, and most now reside in institutional collections. Other known copies in the area are held by the Union League of Philadelphia and the National Constitution Center.