March 23, 2007 by Joseph Krohn
A rare 1823 copy of the Declaration of Independence sold at auction for $477,650 by a man who found it last year in a Nashville thrift store for $2.48. Michael Sparks, a music equipment technician, sold the document Thursday at Raynors’ Historical Collectible Auctions in Burlington, N.C. Six bidders contended for the document, most by phone or Internet, when bidding opened at $125,000. The identity of the winner was not disclosed. Sparks found his bargain last March while browsing at Music City Thrift Shop. When he asked the price on a yellowed, shellacked, rolled-up document, the clerk marked it at $2.48 plus tax. The document turned out to be an “official copy” of the Declaration of Independence – one of 200 commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1820 when he was secretary of state and printed by William Stone in 1823. Sparks said he had a few plans for the money: a used car, adding a sun room to his house, helping to support his parents and giving some to charity. “You think it is a huge fortune, but by the time you figure it up and put some off for the taxes it is not. It is not a huge fortune, but more like a small fortune,” he said.