Identifying Copy of Constitution

I am trying to find out where I might have some one look at item I found about 25 years ago behind a very old oil painting. I have enclosed [received via email with attachments] pictures of that item, which is the Constitution. After viewing a history show last week and they spoke of some one else finding a copy of the Constitution the same way, I thought that I should have some one check out mine.They said in the show that 174 copies were still missing of the first 200 ever made. If you could direct my to the right place I would be very happy.

Responses

We do get this question a lot, but in fact, the experts on the Constitution are our colleagues at the National Archives and Records Administration! They have put up many useful resources on the Charters of Freedom, of which the Constitution is one document. There is a history of the facsimiles and transcribed reproductions here at this page about the history of the Constitution and regarding another event where NARA put four versions on display together (press release).

From the pictures you attached, what you have may be one in the edition of the 1823 Stone engraving, about which my colleague has written an informative article. It is impossible for me to say exactly from your images, for it could be yet another later copy of the Stone engraving. To be sure, read Ms. Nicholson’s article closely and look for all the characteristics she mentions, and then you might want to consult an appraiser, or simply look at one of the many references the National Archives cites in their online exhibit. The Smithsonian Institution has developed the following page to assist you in finding an appraiser:Artifact Appraisals: A few references to help you determine the monetary value of your collectibles and NARA will more directly send you here. Additionally, auction catalogs, databases, and collectors' manuals and price guides on appraisal can often be found at your local library or historical society. Lastly, check out our tip on authentication of artworks and documents - it repeats the bit about appraisal, but has some other guidance for you regarding what you need to save and make available to the appraiser or conservator.

Best wishes in your continued research!

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