Autograph hounds demonstrated their enthusiasm for the bicentennial of the Constitution with near total silence yesterday. Only one person bid for an original printing of the first draft of the document, which was put up for auction at the Wyndham Bristol Hotel here.

An unidentified buyer, whose offer was uncontested, paid $85,000 for the eight pages.

"There really never has been a great interest in signers of the Constitution," said autograph collector and dealer Edward Bomsey, an employe manager for the Edison Electric Institute and an aficionado of signatures of Supreme Court justices.

Bomsey said the Declaration of Independence -- or rather the signatures of those who signed it -- have always ranked first with collectors.

"There's still a lot more interest in the last 11 years in the signers of the Declaration than in signers of the Constitution," Bomsey said.

James Wilson, a little-known hero of the Constitutional Convention that produced the cornerstone of U.S. democracy and original owner of the document sold yesterday, would have been green with envy, if not entirely delighted by the lack of interest in his handiwork.

The one-time Supreme Court justice died while on the lam from creditors, having left as his legacy a broken spirit and a pile of debts from sour real estate speculation.

The draft sold yesterday had been purchased in 1970 by a Florida investor, who paid $19,000 for it then.

Auctioneers, though, had hoped to fetch a six-figure price for the Wilson draft, especially since the United States is celebrating the Constitution's 200th anniversary.

"This is the year to sell it," said Dale Sorenson, president of Waverly Auctions, which presided over yesterday's catalogue sale, sponsored by the The Manuscript Society. "There aren't too many {copies} around."

Wilson, a Philadelphia lawyer, championed the rights of individuals to choose their government at a time when there was strong sentiment for limiting power to an elite. Along with James Madison of Virginia, he pushed for representing states in Congress according to population. Wilson also headed a faction that demanded three equal branches of government, with the president chosen by popular vote, rather than by Congress then.

Many of those views were absent from the first draft sold yesterday, complete with some editing marks attributed to Wilson. But Wilson, widely regarded at the time as one of the most knowledgeable constitutional conventioneers, played a key role in pushing through the second, revised draft that emerged as the final document.

According to Sorenson, only 10 copies of the 60 first drafts originally printed are known to have survived. Most are held by libraries and other institutions.

The one auctioned yesterday left the hands of Wilson heirs about 100 years ago, Sorenson said, when they traded it away for some carpentry work.

Collectors at yesterday's auction were simply interested in more popular figures. Wilson had to compete with the signed letters, canceled checks, books and varied mementoes of Thomas Jefferson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John Hancock and dozens of others.