The birth certificates of Joseph and Margaret Spengler, dating to the late 1700s, are expected to fetch between $50,000 and $100,000 when they go on the block at Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates in Mt. Crawford on Saturday.
Hand-drawn records -- frakturs -- weren't unusual during that time period, according to Evans, but the style of the Spengler birth certificates sets them apart.
The focus on imagery more than lettering is what makes them different from traditional frakturs, Evans said.
Featuring a drawing of a man and woman along with flowers and the actual written information about the births, the certificates are credited to the Rev. Heinrich Diefenbach.
Diefenbach, according to the catalog listing online, was recorded as a fraktur artist and theology student. It is likely he made the certificates while ministering in Augusta County around 1799 or on a trip through the Shenandoah Valley in 1802, according to the catalog. They are his only known works of that time period. And though recent books have identified Diefenbach as an artist, there are no other known examples of his work, Evans said.
But beyond the artist and the aesthetics of the birth certificates, it's sometimes the story behind items that makes them valuable, according to Evans.
The more information available about an object, the more valuable that could make it, according to Evans. People are looking for meaning, he said.
The certificates have stayed in the same family for six generations, beginning with Johann Philip Spengler (1771-1837).
Johann Philip Spengler and Regina Stover (1763-1814) had four children near Strasburg, according to the catalog, with the Joseph and Margaret, the subjects of the birth certificates, being two of them.
Joseph, according to the catalog, went on to marry twice and father 18 children. He was educated as a lawyer but instead lived the agrarian life, tending a farm of more than 1,000 acres near Bentonville in present day Warren County, the catalog says. He went on to serve as justice of the court in newly-formed Warren County in 1836, as sheriff from 1837-1839 and as justice again from 1840-1846.
This infromation from Jeffery's and Evan Auction Web page 2011