[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... No place, [Philadelphia: Robert P. Smith at the Anastatic Press, 144 Chestnut Street], n.d. . Imprint "Anastatic fac-simile" in lower left.
Folio broadside (29 x 25 in.), printed on wove paper. Even age-toning, neatly laid down on linen, slight smudging lower left-hand corner, minor fraying in a few spots, otherwise in excellent condition for this fragile edition.
"WHEN IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS...": ONE OF ONLY A FEW SURVIVING COPIES OF THE ANASTATIC PRINTING OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
Printed in 1846, just after the controversy over the annexation of Texas and the Declaration of War against Mexico, this large-format facsimile of America's founding document was printed at the first anastatic press in the U.S. The process, which required contact between an original document and an acid-prepared printing plate, was invented in 1840 by Carl Friedrich Baldamus and Werner Siemens of Germany; they received U.S. Patent No. 4,239 in October 1845. John J. Smith (1798-1881), Librarian of the Library Company of Philadelphia, agreed to become sole agent to promote and license the process in the U.S. The first product of the Anastatic Press operated by his son, Robert Pearsall Smith (1827-1898), is a reprint of the 1681 Holme map of Pennsylvania. In December 1846 an article in Alexander's Pictorial Messenger noted that "fac-similes of the Declaration of Independence" and other patriotic documents were for sale. (We are grateful to Edward J. Law for sharing his study of the anastatic process).
There appear to be at least two variants of the document: one with a slightly larger text block and with the imprint "Anastatic Fac-simile" in different type. VERY RARE: not noted in Biddle's list. We can locate only 3 other copies: one at Independence National Historical Park, one owned by Thomas Lingonfelter (both varnished) and a copy sold here, 24 June 2009, $25,000).
References: John Biddle, "Some Broadside Editions of the Declaration of Independence," in Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, v.98, pt.2 (Oct 1988); Edward J. Law, "The Introduction of Anastatic Printing to America," in Journal of the Printing History Society, forthcoming; Lita Solis Cohen, "The Anastatic Copy of the Declaration of Independence," in Maine Antique Digest, 2008.