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Revolution and Founding Fathers (1765 - 1784)
Revolution and Founding Fathers (1765 - 1784)

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John Binns’ Scarce & Most Decorative Early Declaration of Independence Facsimile (1819)

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Engraved Broadside. “In Congress July 4th. 1776. The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America.” [Philadelphia:] John Binns, 1819. Text designed and engraved by Charles H. Parker, facsimiles of signatures engraved by John Vallance of the firm of Tanner, Vallance, Kearny & Co. Ornamental border, drawn by George Bridport, incorporated the seals of the thirteen original states after Thomas Sully, engraved by George Murray. Medallion portraits of Washington (after Gilbert Stuart, 1795), Jefferson (after Bass Otis, 1816), and Hancock (after John Singleton Copley, 1765), were engraved by James Barton Longacre. Printed by James Porter. 27½ x 36 in.

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Historical Background
In 1816, the publisher John Binns was the first to announce plans to publish a decorative broadside of the Declaration of Independence, to be sold by subscription for $10 each. The project was completed in 1819, by which time four others had already imitated the idea and issued less ornate and less expensive copies, including a pirated copy of the Binns. Binns later said that his publication cost him $9,000, an astonishing amount at that time.

In a prospectus accompanying an incomplete state of the print submitted for copyright on November 4, 1818, Binns describes the work: “The Design in imitation of Bas Relief, will encircle the Declaration as a cordon of honor, surmounted by the Arms of the United States. Immediately underneath the arms, will be a large medallion portrait of General George Washington, supported by cornucopias, and embellished with spears, flags, and other Military trophies and emblems. On the one side of this medallion portrait, will be a similar portrait of John Hancock,...and on the other, a portrait of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence. The arms of ‘The Thirteen United States’ in medallion, united by wreaths of olive leaves, will form the remainder of the cordon, which will be further enriched by some of the characteristic productions of the United States; such as the Tobacco and Indigo plants, the Cotton Shrub, Rice &c. The facsimiles will be engraved by Mr. Vallance, who will execute the important part of the publication at the City of Washington, where, by permission of the Secretary of State, he will have the original signatures constantly under his eye.”

The Binns broadside bears an engraved facsimile attestation to the accuracy of the document by John Quincy Adams, then Secretary of State, from April 19, 1819: “I certify, that this is a Correct copy of the original Declaration of Independence, deposited at this Department; and that I have compared all the signatures with those of the original, and have found them Exact Imitations.

Despite the competition, Binns’ print remains the best decorative reproduction of the Declaration of Independence. Binns wanted to have his copy adopted as official, and one was displayed in the House of Representatives. For political reasons—and perhaps because Binns failed to include an engraving of John Adams—John Quincy Adams soon after commissioned William J. Stone to make an exact facsimile in 1823.

The Library Company of Philadelphia owns the original copper printing plate for this print.

Item #27257, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Virginia Planter Friend of Washington Explains American Reaction to the Intolerable Acts, Warns War, Urges Effort to Repeal the Law

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR PRELUDE.] BRYAN FAIRFAX, Autograph Letter Signed but with signature effaced, to Unidentified Recipient, October 24, 1774, [Virginia]. 4 pp., 7¼ x 9 in.

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“It is not yet too late for the King to recover the Affections of his Subjects in America… If more Troops should be sent over, and any Blows shd happen to the Northward, there will be as great a Passion in America for the Relief of Boston as ever there was for Croisades to Jerusalem… They act here from a Persuasion that a determined System is now formed to tax or enslave them…. The People mean well, they should not be forced to give up what they verily believe to be their Rights…”

Bryan Fairfax wrote this fascinating letter from Virginia to an influential Englishman. (His cousin, Lord Thomas Fairfax, is at least a plausible guess as to the recipient). Fairfax describes the American reaction to the Intolerable Acts and the Boston Port Act, urging the recipient to use his power in England to have them repealed. Fairfax originally signed the letter. Perhaps considering the wisdom of having a name attached to such a passionate letter, he or a reader scratched it out. Whether immediately after writing, or within the next couple of years once the Revolutionary War began in earnest, we cannot tell.

Despite major differences as to their approaches, Fairfax notes, “as to the Virginians I can answer for their good Intentions.” Fairfax and Washington’s correspondence in July and August reveal their major difference: Fairfax believed the British could still be persuaded by arguments, while Washington believed that repeated failures to even acknowledge successive colonial petitions and supplications showed that the British had determined to subjugate the colonies.

Item #27209, SOLD — please inquire about other items

A Stone/Force Printing of the Declaration of Independence

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, Copperplate engraving printed on thin wove paper. Imprint at bottom left, “W. J. STONE SC WASHn” [William J. Stone, Washington, D.C. ca. 1833]. Printed for Peter Force’s American Archives, Series V, Vol I. Approx. 25 x 30 in.

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The Stone/Force printings are the best representation of the Declaration as it was when members of the Continental Congress put their lives on the line to sign it in August of 1776. 

Item #26740.99, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Proclamation Announcing Ratification of Treaty of Paris and Details of a “Triumphal Arch” in Philadelphia

[AMERICAN REVOLUTION], Broadside, December 2, 1783. Philadelphia, printed by Thomas Bradford. 7.875 x 10.25 in.

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Item #26496, SOLD — please inquire about other items

June 1776 Charles Thomson Signed Continental Congress Resolution Defining Treason

CHARLES THOMSON, Manuscript Document Signed, Copy of Resolution Extracted from Minutes Journal as Secretary of Confederation Congress, June 24, 1776, Philadelphia. 2 pp., 6⅜ x 8 in.

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This resolution of the Second Continental Congress, approved days before it adopted the Declaration of Independence, defines a person as guilty of treason if they “levy war” against any of the united American colonies or give “aid and comfort” to any of their enemies. This resolution was the first public act to declare King George III the enemy and was a de facto declaration of independence.

Item #27107, SOLD — please inquire about other items

A Remarkable Find After 177 Years: A Long-Lost Official William J. Stone Copy of the Declaration of Independence, Presented in 1824 to Signer Charles Carroll of Carrollton (SOLD)

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, “In Congress, July 4, 1776. The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America. … ENGRAVED by W.I. STONE, for the Dept. of State by order/of J.Q. ADAMS Sect. of State, July 4th 1823.” [Washington, D.C.] Copperplate engraving on vellum.

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The Carroll copy shown here sold for a record $4,420,000 at Freeman’s on July 1, 2021.

I was thrilled to be called on to help authenticate and sell this rare printing of the Declaration. When I saw my first one in 1991, 31 Stone Declarations were known. Through discoveries in museums, behind a cabinet in the Supreme Court, by a descendent of James Madison, in a thrift store in Tennessee, and now by a family in Scotland who were having books appraised by a Scottish auction house, the number stands at 48. In various ways, I’ve had the honor to have been involved with 15—now 16—Stone Declaration sales. 

Item #26440, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Declaration Signer’s Copy of the Declaration of Independence (SOLD)

[CONTINENTAL CONGRESS]. ROGER SHERMAN, Signed Book. Journals of Congress. Containing the Proceedings in the Year, 1776. Published by Order of Congress. Volume II. Philadelphia. Robert Aitken, 1777. First edition. Rebound. [2], 513, [26, Index] pages. The Declaration is printed on pages 241-246.

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Roger Sherman’s copy of the 1776 Journals of Congress, including the Declaration of Independence, signed on the title page. This is the second printing of the Declaration to list the names of the signers (after the Goddard broadside) and the third official printing overall (after the Dunlap and Goddard broadsides).

Item #26426, SOLD — please inquire about other items

The Declaration of Independence, Rare Broadside Printed and Posted in July, 1776 (SOLD)

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Broadside. [attributed to Robert Luist Fowle, Exeter, New Hampshire], [ca. July 15-19, 1776], two-column format, sheet size approx. 151/8 x 195/8 in. Pin holes in three corners, with the upper-left corner torn in approximately the same position, indicates that this was posted publicly to spread the momentous news.

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Broadsides such as this fanned the flames of independence. Passed from hand to hand, read aloud at town gatherings, or posted in public places, broadsides (single pages printed only on one side) were meant to quickly convey news. Including the present copy, there are fewer than a dozen examples of this Exeter, N.H. printing known. Pin holes in three corners and the torn upper-left corner suggest this example was posted publicly.

In a way, this Declaration broadside is even more “original” than the signed manuscript pictured by most Americans. This is not yet “The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States,” but rather “A Declaration, by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled.” On July 4, New York’s delegation abstained from voting for independence. After replacing their delegates, New York joined the other 12 colonies.

Moreover, as here on the broadside, the July 4 Declaration was signed by only two men: Continental Congress President John Hancock and Secretary Charles Thomson (here with the common variant “Thompson”). After New York on board, Congress resolved on July 19 to have the Declaration engrossed with a new title: “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.” Most of the 56 signers affixed their names on the engrossed document on August 2, 1776, with some added even later.

Thus, broadsides such as this one preserve the text of the Declaration of Independence as it actually was issued in July of 1776.

Item #21991, SOLD — please inquire about other items

A Stone/Force Printing of the Declaration of Independence (SOLD)

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, Copperplate engraving printed on thin wove paper. Imprint at bottom left, “W. J. STONE SC WASHn” [William J. Stone for Peter Force, Washington, D.C. ca. 1833]. Printed for Peter Force’s American Archives, Series 5, Vol I. Approx. 25 x 30 in.

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“In Congress, July 4th 1776. The Unanimous Declaration
of the thirteen united States of America...”

Item #26238, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Pulling Down New York’s Statue of King George III

[American Revolution], La Destruction de la Statue Royale a Nouvelle Yorck.... Paris: François Xavier Habermann, [ca. 1776], engraving was done in Paris, but the title was printed in German, a testament to wider European interest in events in America. Hand-colored. Light fold lines. Approx.18 x 11-7/8 in. There was no sketch artist on hand, so Vue d’optique images like this show entirely imagined views.

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After the Declaration of Independence was read to the Continental Army in New York on July 9, 1776, a boisterous crowd of soldiers, sailors and citizens headed to the huge gilt lead equestrian statue of King George III which had been installed on Bowling Green only six years earlier. The crowd toppled his Majesty, who then made his first Broadway appearance before being carted to Connecticut. The head was rescued by Tory sympathizers, and later spotted in the home of Lord Townshend. The rest of the King and the horse he rode in on was melted down. In a truly epic burn, Ebenezer Hazard remarked that the redcoats “will probably have melted majesty fired at them.” Indeed they did; the sculpture was used to make 42,088 bullets.

Item #21297.99, SOLD — please inquire about other items

1775 Printing at Harvard College: Accounts of Battles of Lexington and Concord; Report of British “Black List” of Patriot “Rebels to Execute”; PA. & N.Y. Associations Support Mass.

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], Newspaper. The New-England Chronicle, or the Essex Gazette, May 2-12, 1775 (Vol. 8, No. 354). Cambridge, Harvard College: Samuel Hall and Ebenezer Hall. 4 pp., 10 x 15½ in.

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Just weeks after “the shot heard ’round the world,” this American newspaper from Cambridge published excerpts from several intercepted British soldiers’ letters about their experiences in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, as well as much other revolutionary content.

some of the Peasants fired on us…. they did not fight us like a regular Army, only like Savages, behind Trees and Stone Walls, and out of the Woods and Houses…. this extensive Continent is all in Arms against us: These people are very numerous, and full as bad as the Indians for scalping and cutting the dead Men’s Ears and Noses off, and those they get alive....

Item #26145, SOLD — please inquire about other items

“Unite or Die” Masthead Paper with Great Revolutionary War Content

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Journal; and the Weekly Advertiser, January 11, 1775 (No. 1675). Philadelphia: William and Thomas Bradford. 4 pp., 10⅛ x 16⅛ in.

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the greatest duty you can discharge to your country, will be to follow the directions of that respectable body, which you chose to be the guardian of your liberty....

The excellent Revolutionary War content starts with the masthead. Benjamin Franklin first created the image of a snake dissected into separate segments to illustrate the disunity of the thirteen colonies during the French and Indian War, and published it in his Pennsylvania Gazette on May 9, 1754. Twenty years later, Philadelphia printers William Bradford and his son Thomas Bradford resurrected the image for the cause of Independence and featured it in the masthead of The Pennsylvania Journal from July 12, 1774, through October 18, 1775. The Bradfords added a ninth segment to the tail of the snake to represent Georgia, which Franklin had not done. In both iterations, the New England states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut were represented by a single segment. At the time of this issue and for five more months, Delaware was a part of Pennsylvania.

Item #26144, SOLD — please inquire about other items

African American Revolutionary War Soldier Receives Pay from Connecticut

[AFRICAN AMERICANA; AMERICAN REVOLUTION], Two documents: Isaac Sherman, Document Signed, Certificate of Service for Job Leason, October 23, 1782. 1 p.; with: Abram Clark, Partially Printed Document Signed, Receipt, December 5, 1782, Hartford, Connecticut. 1 p.

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Item #24657.01-.02, SOLD — please inquire about other items

A Stone/Force Printing of the Declaration of Independence (SOLD)

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, Copperplate engraving printed on thin wove paper. Imprint at bottom left, “W. J. STONE SC WASHN” [William J. Stone for Peter Force, Washington, D.C. ca. 1833]. Printed for Peter Force’s American Archives, Series 5, Vol I. Approx 26 x 29 in.

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IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.

Item #25743, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Financing the New Nation at the End of the American Revolution

ROBERT MORRIS, Manuscript Letter Signed, to William Moore, President of Pennsylvania, January 3, 1782, Philadelphia. 1 p., 7⅜ x 7⅜ in.

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On October 19, 1781, the date of the British surrender at Yorktown, Robert Morris, as Superintendent of Finance of the United States, sent a circular to the governors of each of the states. In it, he asserted that “It is high time to relieve ourselves from the ignominy we have already sustained, and to rescue and restore the national credit. This can only be done by solid revenue.”

On January 3, 1782, Morris sent this letter to William Moore, the President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania. He also sent copies to President of New Hampshire John Langdon, Governor of Connecticut Jonathan Trumbull, and Governor of Virginia Benjamin Harrison V.

Item #25778, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Declaration Signers Benjamin Harrison & George Wythe Appointing Surveyor Licensed by the College of William and Mary for Western Virginia

BENJAMIN HARRISON. GEORGE WYTHE, Partially Printed Document signed by President of the College of William and Mary the Reverend James Madison, and professors George Wythe, Robert Andrews and Charles Belleni, April 8, 1783. Followed by: two Benjamin Harrison Partially Printed Documents Signed and a Manuscript Document Signed as Governor of Virginia, June 3, 1783. 2 pp., 8¼ x 13 in.

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This commission is to be nul & void provided the present Surveyor, who is supposed to be killed by the Indians, shall be alive to return. The nullity to commence from the return of Mr Madison

The College of William and Mary’s 1693 Royal Charter provided a revenue stream by appointing the College as the Surveyor-General of the Colony of Virginia, with the right to collect fees for each survey performed. (George Washington, in 1749, and Thomas Jefferson, in 1773, were both licensed by the College as surveyors.) Here, the President and Professors of the College nominate Samuel Hanway as Surveyor of Monongalia County in western Virginia, and Governor Benjamin Harrison appoints him two months later, provided that the old surveyor has actually been “killed by the Indians.

Item #25779, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Paul Revere’s Iconic Boston Massacre Print

PAUL REVERE, Engraving. “The Bloody Massacre perpetrated in King-Street Boston on March 5th 1770 by a party of the 29th Reg.” Printed by Edes & Gill, Boston, Mass., 1770. First edition, second state (clock showing 10:20), original hand coloring. 1 p., LVG watermark, 9⅝ x 12 in.

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Revere’s print quickly became one of the most successful examples of political propaganda of all time. The depiction of the event, and a poem printed below, vilify the British Army and list the first casualties of the American Revolution: “Unhappy Boston! see thy Sons deplore, Thy hallow’d Walks besmear’d with guiltless Gore...The unhappy Sufferers were Mess[ieur]s Saml Gray, Saml Maverick, Jams Caldwell, Crispus Attucks & Pat[ric]K Carr Killed. Six wounded; two of them (Christr Monk & John Clark) Mortally...” Rushed into print less than a month after the event, Revere’s print helped unite the colonists and, in American minds, cast the British as aggressive oppressors— making rebellion easier to justify.

Item #25697, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Boston suffers under “Intolerable Act” closing its port, Harvard cancels commencement, and New York calls for what became the first Continental Congress

[BOSTON PORT ACT], Newspaper. The Boston Evening-Post, June 6, 1774, No. 2019. Boston: Thomas and John Fleet. 4 pp., 9¾ x 15⅜ in.

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Early report in the local Boston newspaper on implementation of Parliament’s Boston Port Act, the first of the Intolerable Acts, and the reaction to it in Massachusetts and beyond. Taking effect on June 1, 1774, rather than punishing individuals, the Act besieged the entire city until the colonists paid for the tea destroyed in the Tea Party (December 16, 1773).

the Act of Parliament for blocking up the Port of Boston, is now in all its Parts carrying into Execution with the greatest Severity, many Vessels being already prevented from coming in, and Fishing boats and other small Craft strictly search’d; so that we have reason to expect, that in a little time this Town will be in a truly distressed and melancholy Situation.” (p3/c1)

Item #24806, SOLD — please inquire about other items

John Binns Scarce and Most Decorative Early 19th century (1819) Declaration of Independence Facsimile

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Engraved Broadside. “In Congress July 4th. 1776. The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America.” [Philadelphia:] John Binns, 1819. Text engraved by C.H. Parker, facsimiles of signatures engraved by Tanner, Vallance, Kearny & Co. Ornamental border incorporating the seals of the thirteen original states after Thomas Sully. Medallion portrait of Washington (after Gilbert Stuart, 1795), Jefferson (after Otis, 1816), and Hancock (after Copley, 1765). 24½ x 34½ in.

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Item #23834.99, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Hamilton’s Assumption Plan, Passed as Four Acts of Congress, Plus the Residence Act Quid-pro-quo (SOLD)

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Each of the four Gazette of the United States, August 7, 14, 21, and 28, 1790, were printed in New York: John Fenno. 4 pp. each. The four parts of Hamilton’s Assumption Plan, as passed by Congress, are included in full only days after each were passed. #30022.37-.40

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“Justice and the support of the public credit require, that provision should be made for fulfilling the engagements of the United States, in respect to their foreign debt, and for funding their domestic debt upon equitable and satisfactory terms.”

Alexander Hamilton understood the necessity of placing the new nation on firm financial ground.

On January 9, 1790, Hamilton delivered to Congress his First Report on Public Credit, a strategy for achieving seven key goals for America’s financial system. One of his primary recommendations was the federal assumption of all states’ war debts, amounting to approximately $22 million in addition to foreign powers who were owed nearly $11 million, and American citizens who had sold food, horses, and supplies to the Army, who held $43 million in debt. Hamilton’s ambitious debt plan aimed to draw both creditors and debtors closer to the federal government by honoring all the Revolutionary War debts in full, paying off the resulting national debt over time from excise taxes and land sales.

Many Southerners opposed Hamilton’s plan, believing it would create a dangerous centralization of power, unfairly penalize the southern states who had already paid off more of their debts, and give the North too much financial control. Ultimately, in a deal between Hamilton, James Madison and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, southern legislators agreed to support the Plan in return for locating the permanent national capital (then temporarily in NY) on the banks of the Potomac River.

The Gazette of the United States, the semi-official newspaper of the federal government, published the acts that codified Hamilton’s Assumption Plan in four parts: “An Act Making Provision for the Debt of the United States” (passed Aug. 4, in the Aug. 7 issue); “An Act to Provide more Effectually for the Settlement of the Accounts between the United States and the Individual States” (passed Aug. 5, in the Aug. 14 issue); “An Act Making Further Provision for the Payment of the Debts of the United States” (padded Aug. 10, in the Aug 21 issue); “An Act making Provision for the Reduction of the Public Debt” (passed Aug 12, in the Aug. 28 issue).

Item #30022.37-.40 & 30022.41, SOLD — please inquire about other items
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