Columbia -- A rare copy of the 1860 Ordinance of Secession, the document many historians point to as the official start of the Civil War, will be up for sale at an auction this month in New York.
The copy will be part of Swann Auction Galleries' Printed & Manuscript Americana sale on Sept. 30. The document's estimated value is between $10,000 and $15,000, but the passion for Civil War items could push its selling price higher, said Rick Stattler, Swann's director of printed and manuscript Americana.
"These do come up (for auction) occasionally," Stattler said. "I can recall two in the past few years."
South Carolina's Ordinance of Secession was drafted during a constitutional convention that began in Columbia Dec. 17, 1860, and ended three days later in Charleston. The ordinance states that South Carolina has repealed the Constitution and disassociated itself from the United States.
The original ordinance remains in the possession of the state at the S.C. Archives and History Center in Columbia. It will be displayed starting in November at the archives center to mark the sesquicentennial commemoration of the war, with a trip to Charleston in December to mark its signing there.
Archives director Eric Emerson considers the original the most important historical document owned by the state.
The convention wanted each of the 169 signers to have a copy of the document, and printer Evans and Cogswell of Charleston was contracted to make 200 lithograph copies of the original. The copies were so exact they include the ink blots of the original, and people often confuse copies with the original.
It's unclear exactly how many of those 200 copies still exist, but at least 11 are in libraries or museums, Stattler said. In addition to the original, the S.C. archives office has two of the lithograph copies, Emerson said.
There are plenty of other copies floating around. During the war, Northern troops collected several of the copies. One Michigan officer took one of the lithograph copies north and made copies of it. Also, during the Civil War centennial events in the early 1960s, thousands of new copies of the ordinance were distributed.
Stattler said the copy up for auction was passed down through generations of the family of signer Edward McGrady, a prominent Charleston lawyer.