The item draws value from the fact that Button Gwinnett was one of three Georgians to sign the Declaration of Independence. There are only 51 known documents carrying his signature, said Selby Kiffer, senior specialist with Sotheby's. Experts at the auction house estimate the letter would bring from $500,000 to $700,000.
The letter, dated July 12, 1776, is from the Marine Committee of the Continental Congress to a clerk assigned to the frigate Randolph under construction in Philadelphia. It was drafted by Timothy Matlack and is signed by Gwinnett, Robert Morris, John Hancock, Francis Lewis, George Read and Arthur Middleton.