The Declaration of Independence
Bought for: $2.48
Sold at: $477,650
Unless you’re Nicholas Cage’s character in National Treasure, you’re never really going to get your hands on an original copy of the Declaration of Independence. Or so you’d think. A couple of years ago, Michael Sparks was at the Music City Thrift Store in Nashville, TN, where he found a yellowed, shellacked, rolled-up document. When he unrolled it, he found it was a copy of the Declaration. Having seen many ‘copies’ before (as you can find recently copies that have been aged and distressed for that vintage look, he was a little skeptical. There was something about this one, however. It was so beautiful that he knew it must have been more than just a mass-reprinted item, and it was most likely engraved. When he took it to the counter, he was charged $2.48 for it.
After researching the document, he found that it was actually worth more; a lot more. He took it to an auction house, who had it officially appraised. Turns out, it was an official copy of the Declaration of Independence. Apparently, 197 years ago in 1820, John Quincy Adams had commissioned 200 copies of the Declaration and only 35 were known to still exist.
After some minor restoration work was done, Sparks put it to auction, netting close to half a million dollars.