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Official Emancipation Proclamation Visits Philly

(Photo by John Ostapkovich)

(Photo by John Ostapkovich)

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PHILADELPHIA– The Library Company put an official copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, once owned by Robert F. Kennedy, on display for a brief time on Monday.

From noon to 4:30 p.m., visitors to the rare book collection at 1314 Locust Street got a chance to view the document before it went to auction at Sotheby’s in New York.

Sotheby’s vice president Selby Kiffer says the Kennedy copy is one of 48 originally printed, of which only 25 are known to have survived.

“It’s the authorized edition of the Emancipation Proclamation printed right here in Philadelphia in the summer of 1864, to be sold to benefit the Sanitary Commission which was a forerunner of the Red Cross,” said Kiffer, who accompanied the document on a multi-city, pre-auction tour.

The copy sold for $10 then, but now may fetch more than a million.

The Library Company displayed the Proclamation, issued January 1st, 1863, near one of the documents already in its collection, a sort of “pre-clamation.”

“It’s Lincoln’s Proclamation of July 25, 1862,” says Library Company Curator Phil Lapsansky, “in which he says that if the rebels don’t cease rebelling he’s going to seize and forfeit their property, of course the most significant property being the slaves.”

Reported by John Ostapkovich, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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