Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Federalist Papers auctioning today; proceeds for a good cause

June 16, 2009
Posted by Noah

Most of you probably don’t want to hear me wax for 600 words about how much great stuff, and how many amazing stories, come through the hallowed Heritage halls here in Dallas, but I could… I could… I feel fortunate to be around so much amazing stuff all the time and to be part of so many special stories, but the one we are living right now tops them all in terms of heartwarming-ness (I know that’s not a word, but this is a blog, so there’s no rules, right?) and that the story of Captain Nathan Harlan and his first edition copy of Volume 1 of The Federalist, which goes up for auction here today around 2 p.m. as part of our Rare Books auction.

This story has been widely covered by AP and has migrated around the world in the last 24 hours – and we couldn’t be happier here about it – but just in case you want to inside scoop here it is:

Captain Harlan bought the book in 1990, when he was 16, at a flea market with his mother. He paid $7 for it. Just remember that. He was studying The Federalist in school.

Years passed, Harlan grew into a man, a father and a soldier. He is currently preparing to serve his second tour of duty in Iraq. He’s a brave man and we all thank him for his service – regardless of where we come down politically in terms of the Iraq war. He decided it was time to sell his book, and almost listed it on eBay before checking out Heritage. He saw prices we’ve gotten in the past for the same book, different edition, and decided to go with us. Heritage put a conservative estimate on the volume at $8,000-$12,000. Just remember that, too.

Joe Fay, our Rare Books Manager and sometimes-Heritage blogger, suggested we try to get some publicity on the auction to raise the hammer price of the piece and hopefully get Captain Harlan a little more cash – we all know all of our men and women in service of the nation’s defense are bearing a huge burden right now and could use whatever extra money they can get. To add to this, the executive staff here at Heritage felt it would be a poignant gesture in honor of the Captain’s service to waive the Seller’s commission, meaning 20% more money for his book.

Well, AP picked up the story of Captain Harlan, the page views of his book have gone through the roof and the price… Well, remember that $7 he paid for it? And the $8,000-$12,000 estimate? As of the end of business yesterday – and the close of Internet and mail bidding – the book stood at $30,000. Yes, a three and four zeroes. It stands a chance to go even high when live bidding starts today around 2 p.m. This means ever more for Captain Harlan, and I think that bidders understand this.

It is a superb confluence of a great and important book, a worthy consignor and a good cause. The money that is going to this soldier isn’t just about him. It’s about all of our brave men and women, and the dangerous work they do for little recognition. They do it out of love for their country. I can think of little in the hearts of people that is more noble. I hope the bidding goes through the roof.

Stay tuned for results.

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-Noah Fleisher

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