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Declaration of Independence - Huntington Printing
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Scarce early engraving of the Declaration of Independence.

ELEAZER HUNTINGTON. Engraved Document. Ca. 1820-1825. Framed 30½ x 35¾ in.

Inventory #25703       Price: $9,500

Historical Background

In the period following the War of 1812, Americans began to look back for the first time on the nation’s founding; the Republic was forty years old, and the generation that had signed the Declaration of Independence was passing away. Many founding documents, such as the debates of the Constitutional Convention, had not been widely published. Even the Declaration of Independence itself, as created, was largely unknown to Americans. Several entrepreneurs, sensing the national mood, set out to print reproductions of the document.

The first to do so was a writing master named Benjamin Owen Tyler, who created a decorative version of the Declaration and published it in 1818. Then, in the early 1820s, a Hartford engraver and penmanship author named Eleazer Huntington followed Tyler’s example by creating a calligraphic facsimile of the Declaration. Huntington stripped out the ornaments and illustrations that Tyler had added, and reduced the size to make it more affordable.

Eleazer Huntington (1789-1852) was born in Connecticut and became an engraver, printer, and publisher in Hartford. He married Maria Hinsdale in 1817, and they had eight children. In 1816, he published Introduction to the Art of Penmanship; or, a New and Improved System of Round and Running Hands, a brief pamphlet of eighteen pages with illustrations, and he published a second edition in 1821. In 1824, he published The American Penman, Comprising the Art of Writing, Plain and Ornamental; Designed as a Standard Work, for the Use of Schools, and issued other editions in 1825 and 1830. In 1832, Huntington acquired Tyler’s Declaration of Independence plates. In 1839, Huntington announced that he was changing his business for the benefit of his health and sold his engraving plates, including the one for the Declaration of Independence. In 1841 or 1842, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived in 1850, with his wife and two of their daughters. Huntington died in Madison, Wisconsin, and was buried in Cincinnati.


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