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Copy Of Signed Emancipation Proclamation Sells At Auction For More Than $2 Million

This copy of the Emancipation Proclamation was sold at auction on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. (credit: CBS 2)

This copy of the Emancipation Proclamation was sold at auction on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A piece of paper that changed the world sold Tuesday in New York for more than $2 million.

With the auctioneer’s commission added to the winning bid of $1,850,000, the final cost for the copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln came to $2,085,000.

Only two people bid on the rare document and they were on the phone. The winner, David Rubenstein, apparently loves American history and appreciates documents of freedom.

“David has bought other documents of freedom including the Magna Carta, the only copy in private hands which is on loan to the National Archives,” said Seth Kaller, a rare document dealer.

Rubenstein spoke to CBS 2 by phone.

“This particular document is I think the most important thing any president has ever done with the stroke of his pen. It did not end slavery, but it began the process toward the ending of slavery,” Rubenstein said.

Harold Holzer said he also loves American history and is an expert on Abraham Lincoln.

“Abraham Lincoln signed the official order on New Year’s Day 1863 in the White House, by the way, his fingers were trembling so much that he had to wait until he had enough circulation to do it in a way that would look like he really believed in it,” Holzer said.

The document is the 26th known copy of 48. Lincoln signed them in June of 1864 as a benefit to help Union troops.

“They raised money to improve conditions in camps and to pay for nursing care,”  Kaller said.

Rubenstein said he plans to put the document in a Washington D.C. institution yet to be announced, where it will remind people about the freedoms we have and the importance of learning more about American history.

Rubenstein also owns a rare printing of the Declaration of Independence, which will be on display at the New York Historical Society starting next week.

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