George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation Has Sold to a Private Collector

  • NEW YORK, New York
  • /
  • December 02, 2014

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Thanksgiving Proclamation, signed by George Washington, 1789
Seth Kaller, Inc.

Seth Kaller and Leigh Keno are pleased to announce that George Washington’s first presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation has sold to a private collector. This rare document, which was exhibited at Keno Auctions Townhouse, was offered at Private Treaty sale for $8.4 million,. The buyer, a private American collector, requested that his identity and final selling price remain confidential. The only other known copy of the proclamation is housed in the Library of Congress.

“It is a great pleasure to have handled this extraordinary document establishing a uniquely American celebration,” said Kaller. “The new owner has agreed to share it with the public at an appropriate American cultural institution.”

Leigh Keno added: “It has been a great honor to have exhibited this iconic manuscript. The fact that it sold to a collector who believes in sharing with the public is the icing on the cake.”

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.”

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.

While the proclamation will depart Keno Auctions Townhouse, the exhibition and sale of Documents has been extended through December 5th and includes two important original documents:

  • A rare July 1776 broadside printing of the Declaration of Independence, attributed to a printer in Exeter, New Hampshire, priced at $1.2 million.
  • 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, followed by Keno Auctions. He has sold and advised on an astounding variety of paintings, American furniture and folk art. Leigh is proud 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 USPAP certified 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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