$8.4 Million George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation on View at Keno Auctions Townhouse, 127 East 69th Street,

November 21-26th

NEW YORK: Just in time for Thanksgiving, Seth Kaller, one of the world’s leading dealers in rare historic documents, will exhibit and offer for sale George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation in conjunction with Leigh Keno, President of Keno Auctions, now through November 26.

The Thanksgiving Proclamation is priced at $8.4 million, and is the only example in private hands. The only other Washington-signed copy was acquired by the Library of Congress in 1921. The document was offered at Christie’s on November 14, 2013, where it was expected to sell for upwards of $12,000,000. Kaller represents the document’s owner, who has decided to offer the manuscript through exhibition and private sale.

Leigh Keno says: “I’m excited to be working with Seth again. His expertise was invaluable earlier this year when Keno Auctions sold a historical draft of “The Twelve Colonies by their Delegates in Congress to the Inhabitants of Great Britain” for $912,500—a record price for an American Revolutionary War Manuscript at auction.”

Says Seth Kaller: “It is a great pleasure to offer this extraordinary document establishing a uniquely American celebration.”

In the Proclamation, issued on October 3, 1789, our first president designates “Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being . . . That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for . . . the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness… for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge.”

Washington issued another Thanksgiving Proclamation six years later and Presidents Adams and Madison proclaimed their own as well. The next President to do so was Abraham Lincoln, who issued several during the Civil War. On October 3, 1863—exactly 74 years after George Washington’s Proclamation—Lincoln established the fourth Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving, setting the precedent that remains to this day.

In addition to the Thanksgiving Proclamation, other documents for sale include:

  • A rare July 1776 broadside printing of the Declaration of Independence, attributed to a printer in Exeter, New Hampshire, priced at $1.2 million.
  • The only known copy in private hands of “the greatest of early American maps,” Thomas Holme’s 1687 “Map of the Improved Part of the Province of Pennsilvania in America,” priced at $375,000.
  • A scare copy of the New York Times from November 20, 1863 with a front page printing of the Gettysburg Address, priced at 9,500.
  • A highly personal letter handwritten and signed by George Washington in 1782, priced at $98,000.

About Seth Kaller

Seth Kaller is a leading expert in acquiring, authenticating, and appraising rare historic documents. For more than 25 years, he has worked with individuals and institutions to build major collections and manage donations and museum loans. As an agent and dealer, the treasures he has acquired for clients include rare printings of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock’s letter announcing Independence, printed and handwritten working drafts of the U.S. Constitution, Abraham Lincoln’s anti-slavery manuscripts, Robert E. Lee’s proposal of surrender to Ulysses S. Grant, George Washington’s Farewell Address to the States after the Revolutionary War, Jefferson’s letters on religion and government, and many others.


About Leigh Keno

Having been interested in beautiful and rare Americana for more than forty years, since 1997 Leigh has been an appraiser on the Emmy-nominated PBS series Antiques Roadshow.   Leigh was Vice President at Christie’s, where he also was a Specialist in American Decorative Arts, prior to 1988 when he founded Leigh Keno American Antiques. Keno Auctions was founded in 2010.  He has sold and advised on an astounding variety of paintings, American furniture and folk art and is honored to have helped build some of the world’s best private and institutional collections of fine and decorative arts. In 2000 he co-authored the book Hidden Treasures. He is a Board Member of the Appraisers Association of America. In 2005, Leigh was awarded the National Humanities Medal by the President of the United States. In 2008, Leigh and his brother Leslie accompanied First Lady Laura Bush on a History Channel televised tour, The White House: Behind Closed Doors.

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