Declaration of Independence Force Print

06 Mar

Striking rice paper reproduction of the Declaration of Independence, 25.25 x 29, printed by Peter Force in 1848 for inclusion in his series American Archives, beginning, “In Congress, July 4, 1776. The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America.” Broadside is removably encapsulated in acid-free Mylar. In very good condition, with previous storage folds, several well-done professional repairs, mainly along one vertical fold, and 1.75″ x 4.25″ area to lower left, affecting only the line of printer’s information, trimmed right and top edge, some light toning to right edge from previous tape, extra creasing along central vertical fold, and light mirroring of ink from folding.

By 1820, the original Declaration of Independence had seriously deteriorated due to inappropriate handling and storage, creating an immediate need for a facsimile reproduction. Commissioned by John Quincy Adams, William J. Stone engraved a copperplate by lifting ink directly from the original and creating a perfect copy. He printed 201 before placing the plate in storage for safekeeping. Twenty years later, in 1843, Peter Force was commissioned by Congress to print a series of books—now known as the American Archives—featuring the founding documents of the United States. For the occasion, the Stone engraving was removed from storage and used to produce new copies on rice paper, distinguished from the original by an engraving in the lower left corner “W.J. Stone S.C. Washn.” Printed in 1848, each copy was folded into the first volume of the fifth series of books. After printing the plate was again retired, now residing with the original Declaration at the National Archives. Although Force printed over 4,000 copies, editions of his facsimile are surprisingly scarce. The Force printing, the second edition of the first exact facsimile remains one of the best representations of the Declaration as the manuscript looked over 150 years ago, before the document’s near complete deterioration today. RR Auction COA.


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