Declaration of Independence Copy Lost in Attic for 177 Years Sold for $4.4M

A copy of the Declaration of Independence that was lost for 177 years has been sold at auction for $4.4 million.

The rare document was gifted to the last surviving Founding Father, Charles Carroll, in 1820 and had been unaccounted for nearly two centuries when it was rediscovered in an attic of a "Scottish ancestral home" earlier this year.

It finally made its return to the U.S. and was sold at Freeman's in Philadelphia, the home of the original declaration, for a staggering $4,420,000 on July 1.

The document is believed to have traveled across the Atlantic when Carroll presented one of his copies to his grandson-in-law John MacTavish and his wife, Emil Caton.

It is the last of six copies that still remain in private hands.

The document will be on temporary loan to the National Park Service for display at Philadelphia's Second Bank of the United States for the July 4 holiday.

According to Freeman's: "This copy presumably passed by descent to Caton and MacTavish. He also copied Caroll's original 1826 inscription to him, and later signed and also documented the fate of that copy."

Carroll gifted a second copy to the Maryland Historical Society on November 30, 1844.

The first copy had then remained lost until Lyon and Turnbull's rare books, manuscripts and maps specialist Cathay Marsden found it while carrying out an appraisal of books and papers at an unidentified home in Scotland, according to Edinburgh Live.

She told the outlet: "I was looking through a pile of papers which had been brought down from the attic, amongst which was a folded-up, vellum document.

"Opening it up, I could see was a copy of the declaration of independence."

Marsden added: "When I got back to the office and started doing some research I became really excited as its significance became clearer. After extensive research, we confirmed it was indeed one of the 201 copies made by William Stone, of which only 48 of them are known to still exist.

"Being able to identify to whom the copy belonged made it even more exciting and rare."

Paul Roberts, the president of Freeman's said of the find: "This was a great effort from both teams on both sides of the Atlantic, a very proud moment for me personally, an international team working in perfect harmony achieve a wonderful result on behalf of an extremely appreciative and supportive client."

He continued to tell Edinburgh Live: "When Cathy Marsden first showed me this document on Christmas Eve I knew it was interesting but this outcome, achieving $4,420,000 on the eve of Independence Day weekend nearly 4,000 miles away, is extraordinary."

Newsweek has contacted Freeman's for comment.

Update 4/7/21 12.10 p.m. ET: This article was updated with a new photograph and details of the copy being on display in Philadelphia for July 4.

The copy sold for $4.4M
The copy sold for an eyewatering $4.4M at auction in Philadelphia. Freeman's