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History for sale
September 25, 2007 8:34 PM   Subscribe

The Magna Carta is up for sale. The document that established many of the rights we now take for granted (and had a secret history discussed earlier on MeFi) is slated to sell for 20-30 million. Interestingly enough, while it has been on display in the US national archives, it was actually owned by Ross Perot.
posted by TNLNYC (49 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's just a goddamned piece of paper!
posted by Poolio at 8:37 PM on September 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Magna Carta is not a suicide pact.
posted by Falconetti at 8:39 PM on September 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


How much you think one of my Magna Fartas would go for?
posted by phaedon at 8:40 PM on September 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I had no idea Ross Perot liked anime.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:40 PM on September 25, 2007 [5 favorites]


Strange. I would've assumed the UK gov't owns it ¯\(º_o)/¯
posted by p3on at 8:40 PM on September 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Strange. I would've assumed the UK gov't owns it

From the NY Times article (1st link):
It is the only copy in the United States and the only copy in private hands. Sotheby’s says the 16 others are owned by the British or Australian governments or by ecclesiastical or educational institutions in England.
posted by Poolio at 8:42 PM on September 25, 2007


It's not the Magna Carta, it's a 1297 copy.
posted by pompomtom at 8:50 PM on September 25, 2007


Phew!
posted by Artw at 8:58 PM on September 25, 2007


Magna Carta is not a single document but a variety of documents referred to under a common name. There is no the Magna Carta - several copies were made in 1215, but none of them were signed by King John - if he did sign or seal a copy, it probably no longer exists. A few of the 1215 copies are extant, and there are many later versions from 1216, 1217 and 1225. Ross Perot has a version from 1297. It's content changed with each version.
posted by stbalbach at 9:04 PM on September 25, 2007


Camelot!
Camelot!
Camelot!

it's only a model
posted by dorian at 9:06 PM on September 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


I hear you can get a deal on a job lot with the Constitution and habeas corpus thrown in, all to the highest bidder.
posted by Abiezer at 9:09 PM on September 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Another reason there is no the Magna Carta is because there is no definite article in Latin.
posted by stbalbach at 9:10 PM on September 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


try telling that to the hoi polloi, stbalbach.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:18 PM on September 25, 2007 [6 favorites]


The Magna Carta is up for sale?

What a coincidence! So's the Constitution!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:24 PM on September 25, 2007 [9 favorites]


Though in a kinda weird way, you have to give Perot some credit for spending cash on such an important piece of US history. I mean, how many other wannabe politicians can lay claim to owning such a valuable piece of our heritage?

At the same time, however, you have to acknowledge the awesome sorta stalker vibe that comes off anyone who failed a presidential campaign, only to start buying up the documents which make our country, Our County.
posted by quin at 9:37 PM on September 25, 2007


1. Get King John to sign the Magna Carta
2. Subtly inform Ross Perot
3. ??????
4. Profit!
posted by mattbucher at 9:38 PM on September 25, 2007


Democracy's for sale to the highest bidder? What else is new? (or, I agree with the BitterOldPunk)
posted by salvia at 9:40 PM on September 25, 2007


I find it fascinating that the family Perot bought it from has had it since the Middle Ages. Christ, my family can't even remember the turkey recipe from one year to the next.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:45 PM on September 25, 2007 [4 favorites]


The Magna Carta is up for sale?

What a coincidence! So's the Constitution!


I shorted the Constitution at it's high when the markets reopened on September 14, 2001.
posted by Poolio at 9:47 PM on September 25, 2007 [3 favorites]



At the same time, however, you have to acknowledge the awesome sorta stalker vibe that comes off anyone who failed a presidential campaign, only to start buying up the documents which make our country, Our County.


On the night of October 19, 2009, our country will come back from school to find that someone had filled its room with flowers and teddy bears.
posted by nasreddin at 9:48 PM on September 25, 2007


Anybody else reminded of the "Art Sale" segment of Amazon Women on the Moon?

Has anybody else seen Amazon Women on the Moon?
posted by dgbellak at 9:48 PM on September 25, 2007


try telling that to the hoi polloi, stbalbach.

that would be funnier if "hoi polloi" weren't greek.
posted by dersins at 10:09 PM on September 25, 2007


“All they told me was: ‘David Redden is selling this really important document, the most important document of all. Can you give up this room for us?’ ” he recalled. “And I’m like, ‘Sure, but what is he selling, the Magna Carta?’ ”
posted by growabrain at 10:15 PM on September 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Perhaps if we all chipped in we could get it.
Then mathowie could say " I have the Magna Carta, in my pants.
posted by Iron Rat at 10:17 PM on September 25, 2007


At the same time, however, you have to acknowledge the awesome sorta stalker vibe that comes off anyone who failed a presidential campaign, only to start buying up the documents which make our country, Our County.

Well yes, but it seems Perot had already bought this copy of the Magna Carta, and is now selling it.

Perhaps Rupert Murdoch will buy it, unless he feels he owns it already.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:36 PM on September 25, 2007


Perhaps Rupert Murdoch will buy it, unless he feels he owns it already.

Better to let a liberal *Soros* buy it and then attack him in the Wall St. Journal.
posted by Poolio at 10:49 PM on September 25, 2007


I wouldn't suggest that Magna Carta is about democracy, it's more about powerful barons getting their way over a weakened king. But it was a start I guess.
posted by wilful at 11:11 PM on September 25, 2007


that would be funnier if "hoi polloi" weren't greek.

you know, i really must get around to programming that hotkey that automatically posts "americans just don't get irony".

it is precisely because it's greek that it's funny. unwashed masses, ignorance, presence/absence of definite article, self-referential irony of using "the the" when purporting to be educated & criticising the ignoramuses, and with "mistaking" greek for latin as the icing on the cake.

now that i've had to explain it, though, the humour is dead for me. thanks a bunch, joke-murderer.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:50 PM on September 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


none of them were signed by King John

You're quite right, of course, stbalbach, but incidentally I wonder whether anyone signed documents at that time? Certainly in the case of the king, I should guess he didn't do anything to certify Magna Carta beyond perhaps raising his hand and saying "Li reis le veult" or whatever the appropriate formula in bastardised London legal Norman French might have been? Would he even have sealed it himself or left that to a functionary?
posted by Phanx at 11:59 PM on September 25, 2007


Though in a kinda weird way, you have to give Perot some credit for spending cash on such an important piece of US history.

Indeed, but how can any American rest while knowing that the Bayeux Tapestry remains in the hands of foreigners? This is a critical piece of the proud US heritage, commemorating the victory of the US army led by William the Conquerer over the tyranical Harold, Earl of Wessex and as such, it obviously belongs in the Smithsonian, not some vile French cathedral.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:21 AM on September 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's just a goddamned piece of paper!

The Magna Carta was just a paper
The Gutenberg Bible? Just a paper
The Mona Lisa? Just a paper
Declaration of Independence? Just a paper
The Constitution? Just a paper
The Kyoto Agreement was just a paper
The Next Big Thing is just a paper
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:31 AM on September 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


The Great Pyramid of Giza? Just a paper
posted by blenderfish at 2:24 AM on September 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


I am going to start a campaign in the UK to repatriate the other copies of Magna Carta back to the US. The fact that we have such important artefacts of your history is a crime. I also have a rather fine bridge in central London I would be prepared to sell for a modest consideration.
posted by zemblamatic at 2:33 AM on September 26, 2007


...stalker vibe that comes off anyone who failed a presidential campaign, only to start buying up the documents which make our country...

He bought it in 1984.
posted by MtDewd at 3:28 AM on September 26, 2007


I was going to buy the Magna Carta, but then Steve Wynn put his elbow through it.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 4:31 AM on September 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Great, now we're going to have to change the history books so all the children learn about how the rights of kings were limited by the Golden Palace Magic Paper and Drink Menu
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:37 AM on September 26, 2007


PeterMcDermott :

The Gutenberg Bible? Just a paper
The Mona Lisa? Just a paper
Declaration of Independence? Just a paper
The Constitution? Just a paper
The Kyoto Agreement was just a paper
The Next Big Thing is just a paper


- is that LCD Soundsystem?
posted by grubby at 5:47 AM on September 26, 2007


Magna Carta is not a single document but a variety of documents referred to under a common name. There is no the Magna Carta - several copies were made in 1215, but none of them were signed by King John - if he did sign or seal a copy, it probably no longer exists. A few of the 1215 copies are extant, and there are many later versions from 1216, 1217 and 1225. Ross Perot has a version from 1297. It's content changed with each version.

If I knew this, I'd completely forgotten. Thanks for this educational thread!

And I too agree with BitterOldPunk.
posted by languagehat at 6:13 AM on September 26, 2007


what is wrong with you people? BitterOldPunk's comment was fantastic, except for the fact that Abiezer made the exact same joke fifteen minutes earlier.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:24 AM on September 26, 2007


what really disgusts me about this world is that we value objects more than the ideas expressed in those objects. George W Bush will go on and on in a speech about freedom and our revered Constitution but walk out the door and figuratively shit all over the ideas with his actions. I place no value on talk or material goods - I value actions and actions alone.
posted by any major dude at 6:40 AM on September 26, 2007


Would he even have sealed it himself or left that to a functionary?

He used something called the Great Seal of the Realm, imprinted in wax. This was common for example the Papacy had the "Papal Bull" which was sealed with a "bulla", which is Latin for "seal". It derives from ancient observers who thought it looked like a bubble floating on water: Latin bullire, "to boil".

When John met the barons on the field of Runnymead he didn't seal Magna Carta but rather the "Articles of the Barons", a sort of proto-Magna Carta. A month later Magna Carta was drawn up but it's unknown if he personally sealed it or even read it, although it is supposed a seal was made (although the copy doesn't exist).
posted by stbalbach at 6:57 AM on September 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


- is that LCD Soundsystem?

It's virtually the Metafilter theme song these days.

Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip
chrismear
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:12 AM on September 26, 2007


The Mona Lisa? Just a paper

Technically the Mona Lisa is painted on a piece of poplar, not paper.
posted by quin at 7:42 AM on September 26, 2007


Back when Bush was just funny and not scary, I remember great mirth around our circle of friends just from invoking his stilted "Magna…Carter."
posted by klangklangston at 10:06 AM on September 26, 2007


UbuRoivas: You're right. I missed Abiezer's comment when I made mine. Mea culpa!

I get points for pithiness, though.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:41 AM on September 26, 2007


you know, i really must get around to programming that hotkey that automatically posts "americans just don't get irony".

My scripting skills are so negligible as to be non-existent, so when you do get around to that, will you do me a favor and program one for me that automatically posts "It's always funny when citizens of Commonwealth countries claim they were being ironic every time they make a mistake"?

tia.
posted by dersins at 11:21 AM on September 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Thanks for posting this, TNLNYC, and for reminding me of that previous post.
posted by homunculus at 11:35 AM on September 26, 2007


I place no value on talk or material goods - I value actions and actions alone.

I'll give you ten dollars for your house.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:11 PM on September 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


the Texas billionaire Ross Perot, who bought it in 1984 for $1.5 million.

He out-bid me by ONE dollar. I was so pissed.
posted by nax at 1:27 PM on September 26, 2007


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