Rare signed copy of the Declaration of Independence will be sold at auction in Philadelphia


A printed version of the “Declaration of Independence” will be sold to the last surviving signer of the original document by the Freeman Auction House in Philadelphia next month. Estimated value of 500,000 to 800,000 US dollars.

The 1823 print was one of only 201 copies produced by the engraver William J. Stone commissioned by the then U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams.The etchings made on kraft paper were inspired by the wave of patriotism after the war of 1812 and More and more recognition The surviving “Declaration” signatories are about to come to the end of their lives.

Stone is believed to have completed his engraving in a arduous three-year process, which may involve hand tracing, using tracing equipment or printing reproduction, which is done by moistening the original ink and transferring it to parchment paper.

The stone carving is famous for displaying the text of the Declaration of Independence and its fax signature. It is also valued for its size, and its 24 x 30 inches is close to the size of the original parchment paper. A line on the top of the engraving distinguishes it from the version made by the entrepreneur at the time, proving that Adams was the one who commissioned it: “According to the order of JQ ADAMS Secy of State in July, WI STONE engraved the fourth time for the State Council in 1823. “

Stone sold his copperplate engravings to the U.S. State Department in June 1823. The following year, Congress passed a resolution deciding to distribute 200 engravings to official databases, important officials, and surviving signatories of the Declaration of Independence. Stone is believed to have also made a copy for himself.

The documents auctioned in Philadelphia were submitted to Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Maryland, who was the last living signatory of the original documents. This is the last of the six known privately held lithograph copies of the signers.

Carol, the U.S. Senator and the sole Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, received two lithographs in 1824. One is held by the Maryland Historical and Cultural Center, and the other has been passed to Carol’s granddaughter, Emily Carton and her husband John McTavish, whose name is engraved on the document. This copy was passed on to the descendants of a Scottish family, and it had been there for 177 years before it was found in an ancestral house in Scotland.

“I was surprised to find that this amazing document might have left the United States on a sailing boat bound for the British Isles in the middle of the 19th century, and then might have taken a carriage or a railroad-or both-to continue to Scotland. The entire journey took six weeks,” said Darren Winston, head of Freeman’s books and manuscripts department. “It was discovered more than 177 years later and shipped back to the Atlantic Ocean, this time by car and plane, and it took two days. This is not just the time between two trips; this is almost the entire history of transportation.”

Freeman’s, located near the Independence Hall, will display the file in the auction preview from June 17th to 30th, but only by appointment. It will be auctioned at noon on July 1, and will later be exhibited with Freeman in the fall along with other American highlights.



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