Legal or not, it is happening. A public document, namely an original, hand-signed order by President Lincoln establishing Maine's first military draft, on July 9, 1863, is being offered by sale by an unnamed private collector. Such sales are illegal under Maine state laws which clearly identify such public documents as belonging to the people of Maine. Maine has long had a "replevin" law that enables the state to reclaim items that never should have left public custody in the first place. The problem is that not all other states have such laws and this item is being offered for sale in another state.
“We believe we have a public document that is being offered for sale in another state and we believe it is a Maine document that belongs here,” Cheever said Tuesday.
How did it fall into private hands?
You can read more about the document in question and about the legal issues in an article by Bill Nemitz in the Portland Press Herald at http://goo.gl/dJTSJ.
My thanks to newsletter reader Lise Simring for telling me about this story.