The volume sold for a whopping USD 9.8 million after four minutes of bidding at Christie's in Manhattan yesterday and went for more than three times its estimated price. It is now headed home to Mount Vernon.
Washington's book, leather bound for him in 1789 and titled "Acts of Congress," contains his annotated copy of the Constitution, the proposed Bill of Rights and acts of the first Congress.
The successful bidder was the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, a privately funded non-profit that owns and operates Mount Vernon, the first president's Virginia estate.
"It was in his library when he died, and now it will be returned there," said Ann Bookout, regent of the association.
The book, which Christie's said set a world auction record for an American book or historical document, will go to the George Washington presidential library now under construction at Mount Vernon, the New York Post reported.
Signed by Washington, it features his family coat of arms on the front endpaper and his motto, "Exitus acta probat," or "The ends justify the deed."
Michael DiRuggiero, co-owner of the Manhattan Rare Book Company, said what struck him about the book was the President's "bold signature right there on the title page."
"It gave me the goosebumps," he said. "I felt like I was transported back in time."
Washington added pencilled notations and brackets to the margins of the Constitution, all in connection to passages about a President's responsibilities and duties.
Edward Lengel, editor in chief of The Papers of George Washington project at the University of Virginia, said the price tag was "justified because this is the most important single copy of any book in the history of our country."
He said it's significant because the notations show Washington wanted to stick as closely as possible to the Constitution and "he did not try to impose his own will on the office of president."
The volume was first sold in 1876 and in the 1960s it was bought by collector Richard Dietrich. It was offered for sale by the estate of H Richard Dietrich Jr.
The previous auction record for an American manuscript was USD 3.4 million, set in February 2009 for an autographed manuscript of Abraham Lincoln's 1864 election victory speech.