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John Binns Scarce and Most Decorative Early 19th century (1819) Declaration of Independence Facsimile
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[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). Framed 35½ x 45¾ in.

Inventory #25702       Price: $25,000

Historical Background

In 1816 the publisher John Binns was 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.

The Binns broadside bears an engraved facsimile attestation to the accuracy of the document by John Quincy Adams, then Secretary of State: “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.”

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). Despite the competition Binns’ print remains the best decorative reproduction of the Declaration of Independence.


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