Americans love lotteries and collectors love collecting lottery tickets. The chance for a sudden fortune with a small outlay of money is an enticing lure. Participants and lottery winners include blue collar workers who experience the exhilaration of sudden wealth and white collar workers who enjoy the thrill of winning. But an old lottery ticket with historic association has special appeal for collectors.
Buying wager tickets for the autograph they contain or for a meaningful connection is the attraction that appeals to collectors. Authorized lotteries in America began as early as 1744 with the Massachusetts Government Lottery. Tickets for the Massachusetts Government Lottery were signed by Samuel Watts and other directors of the lottery. Twenty-five thousand tickets were sold at a cost of thirty shillings each. The chances of becoming a winner were about 22% and the initial drawing was held in Faneuil Hall. The success of this lottery inspired other colonies to run their own lotteries.
Lotteries were organized by Benjamin Franklin to raise money for the purchase of military arsenal. Collectors avidly seek these tickets because of their association with one of the founding fathers of America. In November 1776, the Continental Congress authorized the United States Lottery to finance the Revolutionary War. Collectors of early American history avidly seek historic documents such as lottery tickets of the United States Lottery.
One of the most famous early American lotteries was the Mountain Road Lottery in 1768 managed by George Washington. Collectors avidly seek this ticket because it bears the autograph of George Washington, a feature that attracted ticket buyers. Lottery tickets with George Washington’s autograph have recently sold at auction for over $15,000 each. However, autograph reprints of Washington’s Mountain Road Lottery can be purchased for a fraction of an original and displayed with the same visual effect.
Collecting lottery tickets may not provide the fantasy of winning a fabulous sum of money, but collectors still experience the thrill and joy when they acquire a historic treasure.