Salem Witch Trial Testimony Sets Auction Record

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June 17, 2017

A record of court testimony from the Salem witch trials has set a record at auction, Christie's has reported. 

The New York auction house sold a deposition from the trial of Margaret Scott for $137,500, the most money ever paid for a Salem-related item. Pre-auction estimates of a purchase price ranged from $50,000 to $80,000.

Teenager Mary Daniel gave the deposition, under oath, and the deposition was used as evidence in the witchcraft trial of Scott, who was convicted and later hanged in September 1692. 

In all, 20 men and women were executed in Salem. The execution of Scott, who was from nearby Rawley, Mass., was one of the last seven carried out in Salem, all on Sept. 22. 

Very few documents relating to Scott's case have survived. A text of Scott's indictment brought in $31,200 in 2012.

The auction featured more than items from the Eric C. Caren Collection. Another Salem-related item, a newspaper advertisement for a written account of the trials by famed minister Cotton Mather, sold for $1,375. 

The Caren Collection auction offerings also included a great many rare historical newspapers, including a full front-page printings of Thomas Paine's The Crisis #1 and a famous edition of the Pennsylvania Journal that was shaped like a tombstone.

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