George Washington’s personal copy of the US constitution has sold for almost $10 million, Christie’s auction house says.
The book, with the first US president’s own annotations, was printed in 1789 – his first year in office.
It had an estimated price of $2 million to $3 million but bidding boosted the price of the 223-year-old book.
Historians say George Washington’s notes are what make the book so valuable, as the president was keenly aware of the precedents he would set in office.
The leather-bound book is described as in nearly pristine condition and is stamped with the Washington family crest.
George Washington's personal copy of the US constitution has sold for almost $10 million
It also contains the first acts of Congress, which included legislation to establish state, judiciary, defense and treasury departments of government.
The book was fought over between two bidders who remained anonymous during the auction. The new owner is the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, which paid a final price of $9,826,500, Christie’s later revealed.
“It’s an exciting day. We are thrilled to be able to bring this extraordinary book back to Mount Vernon where it belongs,” spokeswoman Ann Bookout told reporters.
The private, non-profit group, owns and maintains Mount Vernon, Washington’s historic Virginia estate, and has said the book will become part of a new presidential library due to open in 2013.
The book was bound especially for the president by Thomas Allen, a New York bookbinder. He also created similar copies for Thomas Jefferson, the first secretary of state, and Attorney General John Jay.
The book sold by Christie’s on Friday had been in the library at Mount Vernon for many years after Washington’s death.
In 1876 it was sold at auction to a private collection, and was sold again in 1964 to Richard Dietrich, a notable collector of early Americana.
George Washington acted as commander in chief of the Continental Army in the War of Independence and was later unanimously elected as the first president of the US.
After serving two terms as president, George Washington spent three years in retirement at Mount Vernon before he died in 1799.
John F. Kennedy’s presidential library has released the final 45 hours of his private recordings, representing the last months of JFK’s life.
The recordings include discussions on the growing conflict in Vietnam and plans for the 1964 election.
JFK recorded many of his White House meetings secretly, keeping their existence away from top aides.
The library has declassified and released portions of the tapes since 1993.
John F. Kennedy's presidential library has released the final 45 hours of his private recordings, representing the last months of JFK's life
Among the conversations recorded is JFK discussing his ill-fated trip to Dallas, Texas in November 1963, and what would become the day of his funeral.
“Monday?” he asks during a discussion about scheduling. “Well that’s a tough day.”
“It’s a hell of a day, Mr. President,” a staffer replies.
“Although on the one hand releasing the final recordings is a bittersweet milestone, on the other, we hope that the public will appreciate having the opportunity to hear these important discussions first hand,” Maura Porter, the library’s archivist, said in a statement.
Maura Porter told the Associated Press news agency that Kennedy may have been saving the tapes for a potential memoir.
Another possible reason for making the tapes was JFK’s concern that US military leaders had given a different public account of a discussion over the botched Bay of Pigs invasion.
In a meeting between John F. Kennedy and advisers about developments in South Vietnam, the president seems both frustrated and amused that his military and diplomatic advisors have given him contradictory reports on the state of the country.
General Victor Krulak reported “the Viet Cong war will be won” with the US military and social programmes in place in the country at that time.
Meanwhile, state department advisor Joseph Mendenhall told the president that many in the South Vietnamese government considered the war against the Viet Cong “secondary” to concerns about the regime in Saigon, and that student groups were considering moving to Viet Cong’s side.
“You both went to the same country?” JFK asks.
By November 1963 Kennedy’s mind was already focusing on the 1964 presidential election that he would not live to campaign in. As the incumbent, he worried about how to bring young voters to the Democratic Party.
“The younger people, party label – what is it that’s going to make them go for us,” JFK asks. “What is it we have to sell them? We hope we have to sell them prosperity but for the average guy, the prosperity is nil… And the people who really are well off, hate our guts.”
There is also discussion about the impact of filming the Democratic convention in colour, even when most TV viewers would still see it in black and white.
“I don’t know if maybe they’d come over the NBC one in colour,” he says. “Probably a million watching it in colour and it would have an effect… Be quite an effect on the convention. The colour is so damn good. If you do it right.”
John F. Kennedy made over 260 hours of recordings of both meetings and telephone conversations during almost three years in office.
Of the final hours of recordings released on Tuesday, Maura Porter said officials excised about five to 10 minutes of family-related discussions and about 30 minutes because of national security concerns.