Rare copy of U.S. Constitution heading to auction

STORY: This is one of the few surviving first-edition copies of the U.S. Constitution.

It’s heading to auction next month.

Of the approximately 500 copies believed to have been handed out back in 1787 just over a dozen remain, according to Richard Austin, the head of books and manuscripts for Sotheby’s.

“The only copies that survived are 13 copies that we know about. Of those 13, 11 are in museums or institutional collections. There's only two that are in private hands, this being one of them.”

"The Constitution... of the United States of America. We'll start the bidding here at $10 million...."

Last year, the other first-edition copy sold for $43.2 million… an eye-watering amount for a printed text.

“That set a world record last year…”

Sotheby’s says a first-edition Constitution is rarer than a first-edition Declaration of Independence.

This specific copy hasn’t appeared at auction in over a century.

The U.S. Constitution is seen as the oldest ongoing government charter in the world.

It lays out the framework for the national government and its relationship with individual states, and was adopted by America’s founding fathers at a convention in 1787.

And it’s in the spotlight at a time when many – including President Joe Biden – have said the very concept of democracy is under threat.

Although unsigned, this printing includes a list of convention delegates and a letter from George Washington, who presided over it.

Sotheby’s pegs its value at up to $30 million... but adds it could fetch more.

“I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's priceless.…”

Austin says its significance extends far beyond the U.S.

“I think it has a meaning for Americans, and I also think it has a meaning for anyone that's a member of a constitutional democracy or a Western democracy. [FLASH] This is what inspired democracy around the world in some respects.”

The Constitution is set to head to the auction block on December 13.