Collector stumbles upon copy of Declaration of Independence

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The Declaration of Independence was signed by members of the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. Historians are baffled by a big, dirty handprint on the bottom lefthand corner.

LAS VEGAS — A Nevada man is one of 50 people in the world who carry a historic artifact related to Independence Day.

Kevin Kostiner, an avid collector, and history buff purchased boxes of documents at an auction several months ago. Kostiner explained the items were originally displayed inside a museum but were no longer wanted.

“The reality was I was extremely surprised,” Kostiner said.

Mark Hall-Patton serves as a museums administrator for Clark County. He also authenticates artifacts and believes Kostiner’s copy of the Declaration of Independence was produced in the 1830s.

“It’s wonderful to see it,” Hall-Patton said. “You don’t see these [copies] of the original 201 that were printed. A little over 50 are known today.”

The Founding Fathers penned the original in 1776. But it was not until 1820 when John Quincy Adams asked printer William Stone to make exact copies on copperplate.

Hall-Patton says certain markings help authenticate each copy. In Kostiner’s version, William Stone misspelled his middle name.

“His name was William I. Stone, not William J. Stone,” Hall-Patton said. “The mistake was in the print. It was the correct mistake to have.”

Kostiner said he doesn’t plan to sell his copy.

“It’s going to be conservation framed, and it’s going to be on my wall for a very long time,” Kostiner.

Kostiner also started a Kickstarter campaign titled the Declaration of Independence Project. Through the project, he plans to sell copies of his unique documents.

For each numbered copy sold, he plans to donate one unnumbered copy to any school of the buyer’s choice.