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The Document From 1774 That Scored Thousands Of Dollars On Pawn Stars

The pawnbrokers of History's hit reality series "Pawn Stars" have seen quite a few impressive artifacts from American History come through the doors of their World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, from an 1872 American flag press to a ceramic pitcher covered in teddy bears to commemorate President Theodore Roosevelt. Another exciting item from America's past to grace the shop was a centuries-old document entitled "Extracts from the Votes and Proceedings of the American Continental Congress," which seller Gary shows to Rick Harrison in the Season 16 episode "Happy Meal, Happy Deal."

The "Extracts from the Votes and Proceedings of the American Continental Congress," dated September 5, 1774, was somewhat of a precursor to the 1776 Declaration of Independence in that the "Extracts" compiled a list of grievances about British rule over American colonists, including about unfair taxes and the quartering of British soldiers at the expense of the colonists — known as the "Intolerable Acts" (via MountVernon.org). The document stops short of declaring independence from British rule but does represent a formalization of a shift in American attitudes toward the British, to whom they felt like second-class citizens.

The seller obtained this rare document in one of the many storage units and estate auctions he attends (a la "Storage Wars"), but he had unwittingly sat on it for a decade before realizing its potential value. He believes that the document is a first edition — although he has never had it authenticated by an expert — and wants $15,000 for it. But will he get his asking price?

Rick Harrison calls in an expert for advice

As he has no idea whether the $15,000 that Gary wants for his 1774 document is a reasonable price or not, Rick Harrison calls in rare book dealer Rebecca Romney to evaluate the thing — and tell him how much he could stand to make from it.

In their semi-scripted conversation, Rebecca says that prior to the creation of this document, which was printed in Philadelphia and spread throughout the 13 colonies, the colonies had never before joined together to make a unified complaint against the British, so this is a big deal of a document. And — even more exciting for the seller — Rebecca notes that while its pages are tattered, the document would still be considered to be in good condition. She tells Rick, "Something like this wasn't meant to last. It was meant to be printed quickly and spread really quickly and then, like, thrown away. So, you look at this and you think, 'Oh, it's kinda roughed up;' I look at this and I say, 'That's beautiful.'" That's high praise! Things are definitely looking promising for the seller, but he has no idea what's coming next.

A dropped page means the price drops, too

Up till this point, the conversation is all good news, to the delight of both Rick Harrison and the seller, Gary. Expert Rebecca Romney even reports that she knows these documents to have sold for around $12,000, which is a lot of money, even if it's not quite the $15,000 that Gary wants. But Rebecca then flips the book over to reveal that a page is missing from the seller's "Extracts," and just like that. the price plummets despite the document's otherwise good condition. She estimates that a collector wouldn't pay over $4,000 for the incomplete document.

Rebecca leaves the two to start their negotiations, and Rick jumps on the opportunity to ask Gary to give a revised starting price. The seller says he'll take $3,500 for the document, but Rick quickly shuts that down — he needs to make money on the deal after all — and counters with $2,500. Gary tries to have them meet in the middle at $2,850, and after a long pause and a big sigh, Rick decides he really wants this important piece of Americana to pass through his shop. He accepts, and the two go to the back to sign the necessary paperwork. $2,850 for some tattered pages ... who knew? But pre-Revolutionary War ephemera is an important part of U.S. history — and documents like these just grow older and more valuable with time.