Land Ordinance of 1785 closes the books at $200K at Freeman’s

Land Ordinance of 1785, $201,600

Land Ordinance of 1785, $201,600

PHILADELPHIA — Freeman’s inaugural auction of its 2022 season, Books and Manuscripts, was led by the sale of a Land Ordinance of 1785, which far exceeded its presale estimate of $80,000-$120,000 to achieve $201,600. The February 17 auction featured an impressive 98% sell-through rate.

The Land Ordinance of 1785, printed in New York, is an extremely rare printing of one of the most significant pieces of US Congressional legislation; it established America’s public land system, in which the government could parcel out and sell undeveloped land to settlers moving westward. The document was the prelude to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the path to future statehood for the territories northwest of the Ohio River, including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and the eastern half of Minnesota.

“We are very pleased with the result for the Ordinance,” said Head of Books and Manuscripts Darren Winston. “There was tremendous interest in this lot leading up to today’s sale. When something so rare comes on the market, there is inevitably a lot of excitement among collectors; today’s sale reinforced just how valuable this document is, and we have a very happy consignor.”

Following the Land Ordinance in the February 17 sale was a 1796 presidential handbill, which realized $63,000 against an estimate of $15,000-$25,000. In addition, a signed autograph letter by Benjamin Franklin achieved $35,280, and a lock of George Washington’s hair more than doubled its pre-sale high estimate of $8,000 to sell for $17,640.


View top auction results on LiveAuctioneers here: