The Doty Tavern in present-day Canton, Massachusetts, was the location where rebels gathered in August of 1774, safely out of sight of their British rulers, to discuss the revolutionary principles that would become the Declaration of Independence. (The town boundaries have since moved: in 1774 the tavern was in Stoughton.). A photo of the tavern taken in the 1880s shows a sign in front. The tavern burned down in 1888, but the sign survived. Local historians kept loose track of it until 27 years ago, when it fell off their radar screen. No one knew where it was – until last month, when the sign appeared on eBay.
The Doty Tavern sign is a wooden board with two iron rod stanchions along the sides, 71 inches along and 44 inches wide. One side of the sign depicts a lion standing up on its hind legs with a collar and chain around its neck – believed to be an allusion to the British government. The other side is ornamented with a faded image of a horse and traveler. The name of the inn's proprietor, T. Doty, appears below this image.
Local genealogist/historian David Lambert saw the sign on eBay, listed for sale by the Skinner antiques auction company. He notified a few people, and local historians won the auction. They wish to return the sign to its original location. Now all they have to do is raise the $28,440 they bid on it.
"This is an important piece of history for both Canton and Stoughton," said Lambert, of Stoughton, online genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society.
You can read more in the Boston Globe at http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/03/09/history_for_sale/.