$4 Painting Contains Million Dollar Original Print of the Declaration of Independence

08/31/2009 1:54 PM |

Nicolas Cage in National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Here’s an anecdote you can trot out next time your partner, parent, best friend or imaginary antiquarian sidekick tells you that parsing through dusty goodies at neighborhood flea markets is a waste of your time and money: a man from Philadelphia found one of the first printed copies of the Declaration of Independence (estimated value $800,000-$1.2 million) in the back of a painting he bought at a Lancaster County antique market (for $4). The Philadelphia Inquirer tells of the unexpected discovery two summers ago by the Philly financial analyst (right, because that’s the kind of person who needs more money), a collector of old maps and historical documents, who found one of 24 known copies of the Declaration printed on July 4, 1776.

A Philadelphia printer, John Dunlap, ran off about 200 copies that night for distribution to the public, the army and the government, said David Redden, vice president of Sotheby’s, who authenticated the document..

This marks the second time this millennium that the centuries-old document has been rediscovered, the first time, of course, being Nicolas Cage’s (pictured) historic finding in 2007 that the Declaration of Independence was actually part of the presidential Book of Secrets.