• Fine Printed Books and Manuscr auction at Christies

    Sale 2227

    Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts Including Americana

    4 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 223

    [DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE]. In Congress, July 4, 1776. The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America. When in the Course of Human Events... [Washington, D.C.,] engraved by W.J. Stone [1823-1825], reprinted 1833 from the same copperplate, for Peter Force's American Archives (1837-1853), [Traditionally misdated 1848, see below].

    Price Realised  

    [DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE]. In Congress, July 4, 1776. The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America. When in the Course of Human Events... [Washington, D.C.,] engraved by W.J. Stone [1823-1825], reprinted 1833 from the same copperplate, for Peter Force's American Archives (1837-1853), [Traditionally misdated 1848, see below].

    Folio broadside (30 x 26 in., 760 x 666mm). NEVER FOLDED, full margins. Neatly mounted, minor cockling, extreme edges darkened, with slight chipping. Matted.

    A FINE, NEVER-FOLDED COPY OF PETER FORCE'S 1833 PRINTING OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, FROM W.J. STONE'S 1823 PLATE

    In 1823 Congress had commissioned Stone to produce a fine, actual-size replica of the original engrossed Declaration of Independence (see preceding lot). Stone's original engraved plate remained in the possession of the Department of State.

    A few years later, Peter Force (1790-1868), historian, publisher, journalist and Mayor of Washington D.C., conceived the idea of a monumental 20-volume anthology entitled American Archives, containing the texts of thousands of original letters, documents and broadsides relating to the Revolutionary War. Congress agreed to fund an edition of 1,500 sets. For the project, Force arranged with Stone and the State Department to print 4,000 copies of the engraved Declaration on fine, wove paper. Stone carefully burnished out the original imprint--at the top of the 1823 plate--and added a discreet "W.J. STONE SC[ULPSIT] WASHN." in the lower left quadrant. Documentation recently unearthed shows that the Force edition was not printed in 1848 as traditionally believed, but was actually printed earlier, in 1833. American Archives was published at intervals between 1837 and 1853, but paid subscriptions to the elaborate (and bulky) collection proved disappointing, and only 9 of the projected 20 volumes ever appeared. Of the 4,000 engravings, 1,500 went to the State Department, some 2,000 were evidently folded for binding, and a surplus of perhaps 500 were never folded, after the project was abruptly terminated. Unfolded copies show none of unsightly ink offsetting and hard creasing of the folded copies.


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    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN