Valdosta man finds priceless treasure at Yard Sale - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta man finds priceless treasure at Yard Sale

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July 21, 2006

Valdosta - It's every junker's dream. Pick up an item at a yard sale that turns out to be worth of millions.

That's just what happened to a man in Valdosta. The 30 bucks he spent on a painting turned out to be the best investment of his life.

Jerry Morris often stops at garage sales, yard sales, and flea markets in search of rare items and good buys.  At one of these sales, Morris picked up a picture.  "My wife liked the frame," Morris said.

They soon found out they had come into possession of the original stone lithograph of the winning design for the Washington Monument.  Created by artist Charles Fenderick and designed by architect Robert Mills in 1846, this was the very first depiction of one of the country's most famous monuments.

But the original signatures found at the bottom of the print are just as impressive.  "Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, James Polk, George Dallas, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Albert Gatton, and Daniel Webster's signatures are all on it," Morris explained.

However, one major mistake kept this lithograph from being mounted on a museum wall.  "It was an embarrassment to George Washington because they misspelled his name on it," said Morris. 

The misspelling was corrected and the newer lithograph is proudly displayed in the Library of Congress.  Morris's garage sale find has been authenticated and is estimated to be worth at least 2 million dollars.  Morris added "If somebody wants to buy it the Library of Congress will give them a tax break on it, if somebody will buy it and donate it to them. It needs to be in a museum."

Morris hopes to see it on a museum wall some day soon.  Many politicians and museums have contacted Morris with interest about the rendering.  He's waiting for the right offer so he can finally see the lithograph end up where it belongs, in a museum.

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