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Revolution and Founding Fathers (1765 - 1784)
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British Literary Magazine Early Printing of the Declaration of Independence

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], The Westminster Magazine; or, The Pantheon of Taste, August 1776. London: Thomas Wright, [1776]. Folding engraved map; lacking an engraved view and a piece of music, 52 pp. (395-448), 5⅛ x 8 in.

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We hold these Truths to be self-evident; that all Men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

The Westminster Magazinewas one of several London periodicals to include the Declaration in their August issue; the full text appears on pages 431-32, without comment.

Item #26146, $3,000

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. 24¾ x 29½ in., framed to 32½ x 37½ 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 #27694, SOLD — please inquire about other items

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

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

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

N.Y. “Sons of Freedom” Pull Down Statue of King George III

[Revolutionary War], Large Engraving, “Pulling Down the Statue of George III, By the Sons of Freedom, At the Bowling Green City of New York July 1776,” 34" x 25", uncolored, titled after a painting by Johannes Adam Simon Oertel and engraved by John C. McRae, 1859.

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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 #24461, ON HOLD

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

Pennsylvania Magazine, June 1776, Prints July 2, 1776 Resolution Declaring Independence - One of Only Two Contemporary Publications (SOLD)

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Pennsylvania Magazine: or American Monthly Museum. For June 1776. Philadelphia: R. Aitken, [ca. July 4-6, 1776]. [249]-296 (48 pp.), 5¼ x 8¼ in., lacking fold out map.

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“July 2. this day the Hon. Continental Congress declared the UNITED COLONIES FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES.”

Among the first printed notices of the Declaration of Independence’s passage, The Pennsylvania Magazine: or American Monthly Museum, edited by Thomas Paine, held the June issue past its July 3 publication date, allowing notice of this important Congressional action to appear.

Item #23750.01, SOLD — please inquire about other items

The First Published Announcement of Independence (SOLD)

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Newspaper. Pennsylvania Evening Post, Tuesday, July 2, 1776, (vol. II, no. 226). Philadelphia: Printed by Benjamin Towne. Prints notice of the July 2nd Independence resolution on the final page. 4 pp. 8¾ in. x 10 7/8 in.

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“This day the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies Free and Independent States.”

Item #23205, 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

“Cato” (William Smith, first Provost of College of Philadelphia) Opposes Common Sense, and “Cassandra” (Penn’s Professor of Mathematics) Answers

[THOMAS PAINE], Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Ledger: Or the Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, & New-Jersey Weekly Advertiser, April 13, 1776. Including Cato’s Letter VI, “To the People of Pennsylvania,” attacking Common Sense on political and religious grounds. This issue also prints the first part of Letter II by “Cassandra” [James Cannon]. Philadelphia: James Humphreys Jr. 4 pp., 10 x 16 in.

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you have only entertained us with some loose declamations upon abuses in the English government; and shocked us, for want of better arguments, by a perversion of things sacred; filling the papers with personal invectives, and calumnies against all who cannot swallow, at a venture, every crude notion, you may cook up as the politics of the day. This will as little agree with the stomachs of others as with mine; although I have declared that, when the last necessity comes, I have no expedient in view but to take my chance with you, for better and for worse.

Liberty or Slavery is now the question. Let us but fairly discover to the inhabitants of these Colonies on which side Liberty has erected her banner and we will leave it to them to determine whether they would choose Liberty tho’ accompanied with war, or Slavery attended by peace.

Item #25382, $1,600

General Hugh Mercer’s Will—Noting the Plantation he Purchased from George Washington (Ferry Farm, Washington’s Boyhood Home), and Instructions to Executors to “hire negroes” to Work the Plantation for the Benefit of his Wife and Children

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR. SLAVERY. GEORGE WASHINGTON]. HUGH MERCER, Manuscript Document, Contemporary Copy of Last Will and Testament, March 20, 1776, Fredericksburg, Virginia. 4 pp., 7½ x 11⅝ in.

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I direct that after my decease my dear Wife Isabella (if she survive me) and my children do reside on my plantation in King George County adjoining to Mr James Hunter’s Land which Plantation I purchased from General George Washington and that my Executors hereafter named out of my personal Estate purchase or hire negroes as they shall think best to work the said Plantation....

I further direct my Books Drugs surgical Instruments shop utensils and Furniture to be sold and also such Household Furniture Negroes or stocks of Cattle and Horses as may appear to my Executors hereafter named to be for the benefit of my Personal Estate....

Written shortly after Hugh Mercer became the colonel of the 3rd Virginia Regiment of the Virginia Line, his last will and testament disposed of his real and personal property, including slaves among his wife Isabella Gordon Mercer and children, including one yet to be born.

After playing a key role in the Battles of Trenton, in January 1777 at the Battle of Princeton, Mercer’s horse was shot from under him, and he was mortally wounded. Vastly outnumbered and mistaken by the British for George Washington, he was ordered to surrender. Instead, he drew his sword, and was bayonetted seven times. He died nine days later.

Item #27335, $12,500

Two Days Before Christmas, 26 Soldiers in Leighton’s Company Receive Money to Purchase Coats (SOLD)

[SIEGE OF BOSTON], Manuscript Document Signed by 26 soldiers. Materiel Receipt from Samuel Leighton. Cambridge, Mass., December 23, 1775, 1 p.

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Item #20632.14, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Siege of Boston Minutemen Pay Scale (SOLD)

LUKE DRURY, Manuscript Document Signed (“Luke Drury Capn”), 1 p, folio, Dorchester, 20 December 1775, pay scale with calculations from one to ten days for Privates, Corporals, 1st and 2nd Lieutenants, Sergeants and the Captain; mild browning and a few brown stains.

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Captain Luke Drury of Grafton had commanded a company of Minutemen since 1773. Hearing news of the Lexington Alarm, Drury and his men began the 36-mile march to Cambridge. They arrived on the morning of April 20, 1775, to join an army of volunteers from across Massachusetts. Drury’s company was soon incorporated into a Continental Army regiment under Col. Jonathan Ward, and stationed on the lines at Dorchester. On June 17, 1775, they fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill (Breed’s Hill), with at least one man, Samuel Heard, being killed. Also serving under Drury that day was Aaron Heath, who later recalled: “I fired thirty-two rounds at the red-coats.” Though Washington feared his army would disband when enlistments expired at year’s end, many of Drury’s men reenlisted on January 1, 1776. Drury’s men next took part in the March 4, 1776 overnight seizure of Dorchester Heights – the celebrated action that forced the British to evacuate Boston.

Item #20993.10, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Congress Responds to King George III’s Proclamation that the Colonies are in Rebellion

[SECOND CONTINENTAL CONGRESS], Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Gazette, December 13, 1775 (No. 2451). Philadelphia: David Hall and William Sellers. With the Response of the Continental Congress to King George III’s Proclamation of Rebellion. (December 6, 1775). 4 pp. 10 x 15½ in. [Significant damage: Half of column on p1 excised.]

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We are accused of ‘forgetting the allegiance which we owe to the power that has protected and sustained us.’… What allegiance is it that we forget? Allegiance to Parliament? We never owed—we never owned it. Allegiance to our King? Our words have ever avowed it...we oppose the claim and exercise of unconstitutional powers, to which neither the Crown nor Parliament were ever entitled.

Item #30035.30, $1,250

Boston Newspaper Publishes Former Governor Hutchinson’s Letters

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], The Boston Gazette, and Country Journal, December 11, 1775. Watertown, Massachusetts: Benjamin Edes. 4 pp., 10 x 15¼ in.

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This newspaper features a masthead by noted silversmith and engraver Paul Revere, first used on January 1, 1770. The masthead features an illustration of a seated woman on the right with a laurel wreath on her brow and a lance with a liberty cap in her hand and the shield of Britain at her feet. She is opening the door to a birdcage and releasing a dove. A tree adorns the left side, and a town is visible in the distance. Beneath the image is the epigram, “Containing the freshest Advices, Foreign and Domestic.

This issue publishes a series of letters from Thomas Hutchinson in the late 1760s, demonstrating that Hutchinson had sought the post of governor. The publication of these and other letters by Hutchinson convinced many that he had conspired with Parliament to deprive the American colonists of their rights. Hutchinson left Boston for England in early 1774, and his request for leave was granted. General Thomas Gage replaced him as governor of Massachusetts Bay in May 1774, but Hutchinson’s letters continued, even in December 1775, to be evidence to American patriots that the British sought to strip them of their rights.

Item #27304, $2,500

Fourteen Men Receive Coats and Pay (SOLD)

[SIEGE OF BOSTON], Manuscript Document Signed by 14 soldiers. Materiel Receipt from Samuel Leighton. Cambridge, Mass., October 28, 1775, 1 p.

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Item #20632.12, SOLD — please inquire about other items
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