(WYTV) – Who’s signature is the most valuable on the Declaration of Independence?
There’s John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and the really valuable one — no, not George Washington. He didn’t sign it. He was away, leading the Continental Army.
In 1776, 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence. Some later became presidents. Others have monuments — and one has a beer — named after them.
Button Gwinnett is not one of those men and yet his signature is the most valuable on the Declaration because it’s so obscure.
Gwinnett was born in England in 1735 and at age 30, he moved to Georgia in the colonies.
He became passionate about independence and was one of three representatives from Georgia to sign the paper in Independence Hall in 1776.
He died the next year in a duel.
By the 1820s, very few signers of the Declaration were still alive, and history enthusiasts began searching for and collecting the signatures of all 56 founding fathers.
Due to his life of obscurity, Gwinnett’s signature was and still is the rarest of the 56 by far. There are only 51 known in existence.
The fewer the signatures, the higher the value. Collectors say it’s more valuable than those of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and many other historical figures. It’s right up there with William Shakespeare’s.
In 2010, a Gwinnett signature sold for $722,500 in New York City.
The Declaration of Independence has been hiding this valuable secret since 1776.