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Category Archives: Declaration of Independence

Rare 1848 Force engraving of the Declaration of Independence

Striking rice paper reproduction of the Declaration of Independence, 25 x 28.75, 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.” In very good to fine condition, with previous storage folds, several well-done professional repairs to folds on reverse, light overall mirroring of ink, a few small repaired separations to bottom blank border, and some mild edge toning.

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. Congress authorized the printing of 1500 copies of American Archives, but subscriptions for the elaborate edition were disappointing, and in the end many fewer copies—perhaps only 500—were issued. Most, including this copy, were folded and bound into Volume I, Series Five. RR Auction COA.

http://www.rrauction.com/bidtracker_detail.cfm?IN=204

 

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Declaration of Independence Force Print

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.

http://www.rrauction.com/bidtracker_detail.cfm?IN=174

 

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Declaration of Independence Scarce engraved broadside

Scarce engraved broadside, “In Congress, July 4, 1776. The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America. When in the Course of Human Events.” [Washington, DC,] engraved by W.J. Stone, and reprinted in 1833 from the same copperplate for Peter Force’s multi-volume work, American Archives (1837–1853).

By 1820, the original Declaration of Independence, had seriously deteriorated due to inappropriate handling and storage. In an effort to preserve the memory of the venerable document, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams commissioned William J. Stone to engrave an exact facsimile on a copper plate. When Stone completed his painstaking work in 1823, Congress ordered 200 official copies printed on vellum. Stone’s original engraved plate remained with the Department of State.

Several years later, Peter Force, historian, publisher and mayor of Washington DC (1790–1868), conceived a 20-volume anthology entitled American Archives, which would reprint letters, documents and broadsides from the American Revolution and convinced Congress to fund an edition of 1,500 sets. For the project, Force arranged with the State Department to print 4,000 copies of the Declaration using Stone’s original copperplate. Stone’s imprint was neatly burnished out at the top of the plate—and “W.J. STONE SC[ULPSIT] WASHN.” was placed in the lower left. The facsimiles were folded and bound into volume one of the fifth series of American Archives: A Documentary History of the United States of America.

Recently uncovered documentation demonstrates that Force’s edition was not printed in 1848 as previously believed, but earlier, in 1833. American Archives was published at intervals between 1837 and 1853, but paid subscriptions to the elaborate (and bulky) collection proved disappointing. In 1843, when Force received Congressional re-authorization to continue the work, he had scaled back his subscription plan to 500 copies. In the end, only 9 of the projected 20 volumes were ever issued.

Although Force printed over 4,000 copies, extant 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.

Beautifully cloth-matted and framed, and possibly mounted, to an overall size of 34 x 39.5. In overall very good condition, with intersecting storage folds, well-done professional repairs to separations along folds, repaired areas of small paper loss, with well-done touch ups to the text in those areas, and other separations, light mirroring and ink transfer to print, and some scattered light toning. A visually-striking example of one of only a few hundred printings known to exist. Oversized. RR Auction COA.

http://www.rrauction.com/bidtracker_detail.cfm?IN=208

 
 

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