Nugget of Knowledge: Historic document found behind old painting

Len Rome's Daily Feature of Little Known Facts

(WYTV) – A hint if you like garage sales, you might find a real treasure at one.

“The New York Times” reports about a man shopping at Flea Market in 1989 outside of Philadelphia bought an old, faded painting because he liked the picture frame and wanted to use it. It cost him $4.

The man removed the painting to throw away and found the frame was too shoddy, so his $4 purchase was a bust. But behind the painting, he found an envelope that held a folded copy of the Declaration of Independence.

It looked like a novelty item. It was not written but typeset and easy to read so he kept it.

Two years later, he discovered it was history. When the Founding Fathers first drafted the Declaration, they hired a local printer named John Dunlap to print 200 large, easy-to-read copies to go out to the country so people everywhere could read it.

Today, only about two dozen of the Dunlap copies exist, on display in libraries and museums. The rest, as far as we know, were lost or destroyed.

The man who accidentally purchased this piece of history for $4 — and we’ve never learned his name — sold it at auction for $2.4 million.

Retired TV producer Norman Lear now owns it. He bought it for $8 million in 2000.

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