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Constitution and Bill of Rights

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Declaration of Independence Centennial (SOLD)

[HARPER’S WEEKLY], Newspaper. July 8, 1876.

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The July 8, 1876 issue of Harper’s Weekly, containing a supplement celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, complete with a centerspread facsimile of one of Jefferson’s draft manuscripts and the signatures of the signers, along with related engravings.

Item #30011.003, 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 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

Declaration of Independence William Stone/Peter Force Facsimile, 1833 (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. 25¼ x 30⅞ in.

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Item #24402, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Declaration of Independence - Huntington Printing (SOLD)

ELEAZER HUNTINGTON, Engraved Document. Ca. 1820-1825. 20 x 24½ in.

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Scarce early engraving of the Declaration of Independence.

Item #21539, 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

The First Engraving of the Declaration of Independence - The Only Known of the 3 Ordered on Linen (SOLD)

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE]. BENJAMIN OWEN TYLER, Broadside on linen, engraved by Peter Maverick, [Washington, 1818], approximately 24½ x 31 in.

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“To Thomas Jefferson, Patron of the Arts, the firm Supporter of American Independence, and the Rights of Man, this Charter of Freedom is, with the highest esteem, most Respectfully Inscribed by his much Obliged and very Humble Servant Benjamin Owen Tyler.”

Benjamin Owen Tyler’s engraving was the first decorative print of the Declaration. A self-taught calligrapher and instructor of penmanship, Tyler copied and designed the text of the Declaration, and made exact copies (facsimilies) of the signatures from the engrossed manuscript. The exactness of his work is particularly impressive given the limitations of copying them freehand prior to engraving on a copper plate. Richard Rush, son of the signer Benjamin Rush and acting Secretary of State in 1817, gave a strong endorsement which is printed on the bottom left corner.

Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, John Calhoun, and Daniel Tompkins are among the many notables who ordered copies in advance.

Tyler’s subscription book was donated by Albert Small to the University of Virginia, and now can be viewed online. After extensive study, we count approximately 1650 orders for copies on paper at $5 each, and 40 for copies on vellum at $7 each. 3 noted special orders on silk, 2 of which are known to survive. Only 3 were ordered on linen, of which this is the only copy known to survive. Silk and linen copies also apparently cost $7 each. The three purchasers of premium copies on linen were John G.[?] Camp, Buffalo, N.Y., J. C. Spencer, Canandaigua, NY and John Savage, Salem, N.Y. We don’t know which of the original subscribers ours belonged to, but it does have distinguished provenance, selling in 1979 in the Nathaniel E. Stein auction at Sotheby Parke Bernet, January 30, 1979, lot 47. Stein also owned Tyler’s subscription book, lot 46.

Item #23754, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Ratification of The Bill of Rights

[BILL OF RIGHTS], Newspaper. Columbian Centinel, March 14, 1792. Boston, Mass.: Benjamin Russell. 4 pp., 10½ x 16½ in.

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Item #25046, ON HOLD

U.S. Constitution – Contemporary List of States with Ratification Dates and Votes

[CONSTITUTION], Manuscript Document, ca. July 1788-1790. List of the first thirteen states and dates of ratification with votes. 1 p., 4 x 7 in.

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Item #24876, $3,500

Final Version of the Bill of Rights
as Sent to the States with 12 Proposed Amendments (SOLD)

[BILL OF RIGHTS], Newspaper. Providence Gazette and Country Journal. October 24, 1789, Providence, R.I. 4 pp., 10½ x 15 in. The complete text of the Bill of Rights is on pp 2-3.

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Item #22997, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Bill of Rights: September 1789 Printing with Penultimate Text of 2nd Amendment (SOLD)

[BILL OF RIGHTS], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States. New York: John Fenno, September 23, 1789. 4 pp., 10 x 16 ½ in. Disbound.

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“Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith, or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion,or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition to the government for a redress of grievances.”

After the House of Representatives proposed seventeen amendments (“Articles”), the Senate took up the debate and reduced the number to twelve. Even after the reduction, the House and Senate continued wrangling over language, especially in the third article (which would become the First Amendment) and the eighth article regarding trials (which would become the Sixth Amendment).

The Proceedings of Congress report in this issue bears the same September 23 date as the paper itself, but that is unlikely; the House and Senate Journals do not reflect any debate on amending the Constitution that day. Instead, this is most likely the working draft of September 21. It reflects language at the time the House agreed to ten points proposed earlier by the Senate. The House and Senate remained in disagreement and established a conference to resolve sixteen other points of disagreement.

On September 24, the House dropped its objections to the sixteen points, insisting only on changes in the third and eighth articles. Agreement on these two areas established the final text of the Bill of Rights. The Senate concurred on September 25, and the House re-affirmed its approval on September 28th when at least one engrossed copy was signed, marking the Bill of Rights’ final legislative hurdle before being sent to the states for ratification.

Item #30020.05, SOLD — please inquire about other items

One of the Last Drafts of the Bill of Rights (SOLD)

[BILL OF RIGHTS], Newspaper, New-York Daily Gazette. New York: Archibald M’lean, Friday, September 18, 1789. 4 pp.

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“Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America … That the following articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States….”

Very rare printing of twelve proposed amendments to the Constitution, as approved by the Senate on September 9, 1789, but not yet reconciled with the House. Article 3, guaranteeing freedom of religion, underwent the most substantial changes between this and the final version ten days later. 

Item #22100, SOLD — please inquire about other items

First Draft of the Bill of Rights:
17 Amendments Approved by the House (SOLD)

[BILL OF RIGHTS], The Connecticut Gazette. September 4, 1789 (Vol. XXVI, no. 1347). New-London, Connecticut. 4 pp.

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Remarkable full printing of the seventeen amendments to the Constitution approved by the House of Representatives on August 24th. Ultimately, ten of these amendments would be ratified by the states as the Bill of Rights. On May 4, 1789, two months into the first session of the First Federal Congress, James Madison had announced to the House of Representatives that he intended to propose amendments that would guarantee basic civil rights. The absence of such language had almost waylaid acceptance of the Constitution. In the end, New York and several other states had agreed to ratify the Constitution with the understanding that a Bill of Rights would be added at a later date.

Item #20650.12, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Bill of Rights: Early N.Y. Printing of First Draft Approved by the House of Representatives - 17 Proposed Constitutional Amendments

[BILL OF RIGHTS], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States, August 29, 1789. New York: John Fenno. Includes a complete printing of the first House of Representatives proposal for amending the Constitution on page 2. 4 pp., 10 x 15¾ in.

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Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, nor shall the rights of conscience be infringed.

The freedom of speech, and of the press, and the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and consult for their common good, and to apply to the government for a redress of grievances, shall not be infringed.

A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed....

After months of work, on August 24, 1789, the House of Representatives approved seventeen Constitutional amendments, including the first to use the exact phrase, “freedom of speech.” This newspaper includes the full text of the resolution sent by the House to the Senate for approval. The Senate began deliberating the next day, approving some articles and rejecting or altering others.

Item #25430, $12,000

Debating the Bill of Rights Amendments in 1789

[BILL OF RIGHTS], The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser. Newspaper, August 22, 1789 (No. 3295). Philadelphia: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole. 4 pp., 11⅜ x 18¼ in.

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Mr. [Egbert] Benson [of New York] moved that the words ‘but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms,’ be struck out. He wished that this humane provision should be left to the wisdom and benevolence of government. It was improper to make it a fundamental in the constitution.”

This issue of the Pennsylvania Packet includes key debates in the House of Representatives on the developing set of amendments that were later ratified as the Bill of Rights. It also prints the Act establishing the War Department.

Item #24831, $7,500

Bill of Rights - After James Madison’s Initial Proposals, the First Congressional Draft: The Report of the Committee of Eleven (SOLD)

[BILL OF RIGHTS], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States. August 1, 1789. New York: John Fenno. 4 pp. (125-128), 10 x 16 in.

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To ensure ratification of the Constitution, the founding fathers promised that Congress would address guarantees of specific liberties in their first session. After a list of minor textual changes, a series of protections beginning with “No religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed” followed by “The freedom of speech, and of the press, and the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and consult for their common good, and to apply to the government for the redress of grievances shall not be infringed” goes on to enumerate most of what would become the Bill of Rights. This is the Report of Mr. Vining and the Committee of Eleven “to whom it was referred to take the subject of Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, generally into their consideration...”  in essence the first Congressional draft of the Bill of Rights submitted to the House of Representatives. Several weeks later, the whole House would take up the Committee report pass an official draft of 17 amendments. The fine-tuning between House and Senate versions would continue for the rest of the Congressional session. But the initial report of the Committee of Eleven was the first time the enumerated amendments were revealed.

Item #23567, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Bill of Rights: First House of Representatives Draft, Rare July 31, 1789 Newspaper Printing

[BILL OF RIGHTS], The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser, July 31, 1789 (No. 3276). Philadelphia: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole. 4 pp., 11 x 18¼ in.

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On June 8, 1789, Congressman James Madison introduced his summary of proposed amendments to the Constitution. On July 21, John Vining of Delaware was appointed to chair a Committee of 11, with one member representing each state, as Rhode Island and North Carolina had yet to ratify the Constitution, to consider the subject.  This is the Report of Mr. Vining and the Committee “to whom it was referred to take the subject of Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, generally into their consideration...,” in essence the first Congressional draft of the Bill of Rights. The twenty words this report proposed to be added before the introductory phrase “We the people,” were not accepted by Congress. Revisions were made by both the House and the Senate, but within two months, this draft was edited down to twelve proposed amendments that Congress submitted to the states for ratification.

Item #26013, $12,000

The American Museum Magazine Considers Race and Slavery, Bound Together with Congressional Proceedings
on the Bill of Rights

MATHEW CAREY, Magazine. The American Museum, or Repository of Ancient and Modern Fugitive Pieces, &c. Volume VI, July to December, 1789. 492 pp., plus 46 pp. bound in, Proceedings of Congress, from the First Session of the First Congress, including the process of amending the U.S. Constitution by adding a Bill of Rights. With ownership signature of Connecticut Revolutionary War General Jedediah Huntington on free front endpaper. Dedicated in type to George Washington. Bound in contemporary calf, binding worn, small library label on spine, some staining on title page, several pages trimmed near end, with minor loss of text, primitive drawings of soldiers on back endpaper.

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Item #22660, $2,400

The New U.S. Senate Considers Bill to Organize the Federal Judiciary: Full Text of the Senate Bill to Establish the Supreme Court, Federal Judicial Districts and Circuit Courts, as Well as the Position of Attorney General

JUDICIARY ACT, U.S. SENATE DRAFT, The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser. Newspaper, June 29, 1789 (No. 3248). Philadelphia: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole. 4 pp., 11⅜ x 18¼ in.

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the supreme court of the United States shall consist of a chief justice and five associate justices...and shall hold annually at the seat of the federal government two sessions....

The U.S. Constitution provided that the “judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and such inferior Courts,” leaving to Congress to establish the details. The Judiciary Act erected a three-tiered federal court system—the Supreme Court, the Courts of Appeals, and the District Courts—essentially the system in place today. The foremost issue was the relative power and authority to be respectively accorded the federal and state courts. The Judiciary Act’s most controversial provision empowered the Supreme Court to hear, at its discretion, appeals of verdicts reached in the state courts whenever those decisions were deemed to raise questions of constitutionality of state or federal laws. 

Item #24830, $1,650

The United States Constitution – Early Connecticut Printing

[CONSTITUTION], Newspaper. The New-Haven Gazette, and The Connecticut Magazine. September 27, 1787. M.DCC.LXXXVII (No 32.) Printed and Published by Josiah Meigs. Signed in type by George Washington and the other 38 delegates who signed the Constitution. 8 pp. Quarto (8.625 x 10.125 inches). ([249]-256, though what should be page 255 is mis-numbered 247, as is the case with the other copies we have seen of this edition). Accompanied by title and index leaves printed slightly later, for binding after end of year.

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WE, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common Defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution of the United States of America.”

Item #26098, $20,000

Constitutional Convention, Pennsylvania Ratification Debates, More, in 1787 Newspaper Run

[U.S. CONSTITUTION], The Pennsylvania Herald, and General Advertiser, January 3 to December 29, 1787. Philadelphia: Mathew Carey, Christopher Talbot, and William Spotswood. Bound volume of 83 issues of 4 pages each. 332 pp., 11 x 19 x 1½ in. Normally published semi-weekly on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but from September 11 to October 6, it was published on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. (Lacking issues of Jan. 20, 24, 27, 31, Feb. 3, 7, 17, 24, March 17, May 9, 12, 16, 23, July 4, 14, 18, 28, Aug. 11, Sept. 11, 20, 29, Oct. 2, 31, Dec. 1, 5.)

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The year 1776 is celebrated, says a correspondent, for a revolution in favour of liberty. The year 1787, it is expected will be celebrated with equal joy, for a revolution in favour of government. The impatience with which all classes of people wait to receive the new federal constitution, can only be equalled by their zealous determination to support it.” Sept. 8, 1787.

This fascinating extensive run of the Pennsylvania Herald gives a sense of the anticipation over the results of the closed-door U.S. Constitutional Convention, which deliberated from May through September in Philadelphia. It follows with in-depth coverage of the debates in the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention in November and December, also in Philadelphia.

Item #24828, $48,000
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