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American Archives: Fifth Series. Containing a Documentary History of the United States of America, From the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, to the Definitive Treaty of Peace with Great Britain, September 3, 1783

Force, Peter




Fifth Series, Vol. I. [2], [56], [894] pp., in two columns, with each column numbered. With folding facsimile of the Declaraton of Independence inserted. 14x9, half calf & marbled boards. This volume of Peter Force's series documenting the early history of North America and the United States is significant for the presence of a remarkable facsimile of the Declaration of Independence, the single most important document in the history of our nation. This finely executed copper engraving, measuring 29½x25½", was printed from the original copperplate made by William J. Stone in 1823. In that year, Congress authorized the production of facsimile copies of the Declaration of Independence, either because the original document was deteriorating or, according to some writers, because the surviving signers were aging and were desirous of copies to spark their memories of the momentous occasion. At any rate, Stone was commissioned to use a new Wet-Ink transfer process to create a copperplate from which facsimile copies could then be made. By wetting the original document, some of the original ink was transferred to the copperplage, which was then used for printing. Stone printed 201 copies on parchment (or vellum, the same type of meterial on which the original was handwritten). These were distrubuted to Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, members of Congress, surviving Signers, colleges and universities, etc. Only 31 examples of this printing are known to have survived. Peter Force used the original Stone copperplate to printed additional copies to be included in Vol. I of the Fifth Series of his American Archives. Congress had authorized up to 1500 copies of the work to be printed, but subscriptions fell far short of that, and perhaps as few as 500 copies were actually produced, though other estimates range as high as a thousand. Most copies of the Declaration have been removed from the volume in which they were issued, and have suffered wear as the result. The present example, inserted after column 1596, is pristine, with just the normal faint offset.

Lot Amendments

Volume with rubbing and wear, joints cracked, formerly in the wells college library, with markings, else very good, internally near fine to fine.

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