The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association emerged as the winning bidder of George Washington's original copy of the Acts of Congress at an auction Friday at Christie's in New York.
The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association acquired the prized volume, bidding $9.8 million for the historic documents for the shelves of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, slated to open in 2013. The acquisition is one of the most significant for the Mount Vernon Estate.
The 106-page volume is emblazoned with Washington’s bookplate and features his handwritten notes penciled in the margins. It contains Washington’s personal copy of the U.S. Constitution, a draft of the Bill of Rights, and other documents recording the early acts of the new Congress. Washington received the book in 1789, his first year in office as U.S. president, and brought it with him to Mount Vernon upon his retirement from public office in 1797.
“Washington himself once wrote, ‘The Constitution is our guide, which I will never abandon.’ By acquiring this book — his personal copy of the Constitution — we are taking him quite literally,” said Ann Bookout, Regent, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, in a statement. ”It is extremely rare to see a book of such significance change hands, and we felt that it was essential to muster our resources to bring this extraordinary document home to Mount Vernon.”
Mount Vernon will take possession of the volume later this summer. The association will announce plans for its display and viewing at a later date.