Seth Kaller, Inc.

Inspired by History

Is it Real?

These images show museum store reproductions on antique looking paper.

 

Declaration of Independence

 

Declaration of Independence

This copy is 11 ¾ x 14 ¾.  See our Declaration files, but note that any copies that have this handwritten appearance, and are under 20 x 30”, are reproductions.  Many of the larger size copies are as well, but there we have to be careful, as there are some quite valuable full size early reproductions. If you think you may have a valuable copy, consult these instructions and email details and photos of the document to real@sethkaller.com. Note that we cannot respond to emails that do not include a photo.

For more information see The Declaration of Independence: Rare Copies of America’s Founding Document, by Seth Kaller, published in Autographs Magazine, July, 2009.

 Gettysburg Address  

Gettysburg Address

This copy is 13 ¼ x 9 ¾. Five versions of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln’s hand exist, but none are known in private hands. The Nicolay and Hay copies are in the Library of Congress.  The New York Metropolitan Fair (or Everett) copy is in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.  The Baltimore Sanitary Fair first version (the Bancroft copy) is in Cornell University, and The Baltimore Sanitary Fair second version (the Bliss copy) is in the White House.

All are illustrated in The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech That Nobody Knows, by Gabor Boritt, Director, Civil War Institute, Gettysburg College. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006.  If you have one that matches the lines and hand of any of those, it is unfortunately a reproduction. Most were written by Lincoln for various purposes after the fact.  It is always possible that a new original manuscript will be discovered, so be on the look-out.

 The Constitution  

The Constitution

This very reduced version is 11 ¾ x 17”, but it is also available on four separate, larger pages.

Only one signed manuscript of the U.S. Constitution was created, and it is in the National Archives. So if you have one that looks like this image, no matter what the size, it is a reproduction.  That being said, printed and marked up working drafts from the Constitutional Convention do exist.  They are quite rare and very valuable. We have had the honor of handling all of the Constitutional Convention drafts that have been on the market in the last 50 years. 

   

Bill of Rights

This is the only one of the founding documents with originals prepared for every state. At least fourteen signed manuscripts were created. A few years ago, we helped North Carolina recover its original manuscript of the Bill of Rights.

Reproductions of the National Archives original are sold in museum gift stores.  Rare and valuable early broadside editions and newspaper editions do exist.

 The Night Before Christmas  

The Night Before Christmas

Copies on old style paper, with a small New-York Historical Society reference on the bottom, are reproductions. The Strong Museum of Rochester, NY and the Huntington Library of San Marino California also have manuscript copies that have been reproduced.

One copy is known in private hands.

For more information about the “controversy” over Clement S. Moore’s authorship, see The Moore Things Change, by Seth Kaller, in the New-York Journal of American History, Fall 2004 (copies available on request by email to real@sethkaller.com).

   

What to do if you are wondering?

If your copy of one of these documents matches any of the above exactly, unfortunately you have a reproduction. These mostly have great educational but no commercial value.

There are many other formats and sizes of reproductions.  If there are any printed marks at the top or bottom that include copyright or dating, or a printed location (ie the National Archives) that would be proof that it is a reproduction.

If you aren’t sure whether you have an original or a copy, feel free to mail us an image, along with the size of the document, and your contact information.  If you would like to email it, send to real@sethkaller.com.  

If there is any chance that it is an original, we would be happy to work with you to authenticate it.

Important early printings of our founding documents are still being discovered, so if you aren’t sure what you have, feel free to contact us.

Seth Kaller