1st census signed by Jefferson fetches $122,500

April 14, 2010

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NEW YORK—A first edition of the first U.S. census signed by Thomas Jefferson in 1791 has been sold at auction in New York City for over $122,000.

A Sotheby's spokesperson says the 56-page document, which breaks down the nation's population by free people and slaves, was purchased by a private collector on Wednesday.

Jefferson was secretary of state at the time and his signature certified that the information was an official accurate count.

Only two other 1791 first edition copies signed by Jefferson have come up at auction since 1975. One sold in 2004 at Christie's New York for $85,000; the other sold at Sotheby's in 2000 for $47,500.

The Jefferson-signed census was part of a large collection of handwritten letters, documents and other manuscripts of American history owned by the late newspaper publisher James S. Copley.