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Historic "Declaration of Independence" engraving by publisher John Binns Archival print

Historic "Declaration of Independence" engraving by publisher John Binns Archival print

Regular price $89.95 USD
Regular price Sale price $89.95 USD
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Stunning reproduction of the exquisite 1819 engraving of the Declaration of Independence published by John Binns, complete with the signatures and state seals. A breathtaking engraving. Extremely detailed. Very ornate. Our archival print is large, 22" x 30", near the size of the original (26" x 36"), printed on heavy stock, perfect for framing, and only available from The History List Store.

You will find framed originals in the entrance hall of Jefferson’s Monticello and the drawing room of Madison’s Montpelier (pictured below), about 50 miles away.

From Lee Wright, Founder of The History List:

"I've admired this since I first saw it a couple of years ago, and have been looking for a way we could offer a high quality version that shows the beauty of the engraving.

"We're reproducing it at 22" x 30", very close to its original size, and we're doing it as a fine art print for people who want to frame this and hand it down from generation to generation.

"While it's not an original print from the engraved plate—an original sold at auction on September 15, 2020 for $30,000—it is the best print possible. We've invested in substantial reconstruction of some larger missing pieces around the edge and done some other small corrections, but have left most of the other signs of wear. Framed, it will come close to looking like an original.

"Historically these were framed without mats. If you choose to frame it without a mat, you can find 22" x 30" assembled frames online for less than $100.  Larger frames and mats are available online, too.  Either way, this is probably the most affordable option (versus custom framing at a craft store or at an independent frame store). However, if you want conservation framing, you will want to go to an independent frame shop and specify that that’s what you want."

Size: 22" x 30" That includes a 1/4" that we added around the perimeter for a mat or frame. (Otherwise the mat or frame would have cut off the top of the engraving.) 

The original was 26” x 36”.

About the paper weight and printing process: The printing process is called UV Gel and is a unique ink and curing process that intrinsically produces a durable and washable finish without the need for a laminate. In addition, since it is UV based, it has outstanding archival characteristics. Together with the specially formulated fine art media, these prints are considered archival.

Historical Background

From Monticello:

"A virtual war ensued between rival printers John Binns and Benjamin Owen Tyler to be the first to publish and garner Jefferson's endorsement. Binns was the publisher of the Republican Philadelphia newspaper The Democratic Press. In June 1816, he began taking subscriptions for his print of the Declaration, which was to be surrounded by portraits of John Hancock, George Washington, and Jefferson, and the seals of all thirteen states, but he failed to produce the work until 1819.

"In the meantime Tyler took advantage of Binns's publicity and produced a less expensive and unornamented print in April 1818, complete with facsimile signatures and a dedication to Jefferson. Tyler was a self-taught calligrapher and penmanship instructor. When he asked Jefferson for permission to dedicate the engraving to him, Jefferson consented but reminded Tyler that he was "but a fellow-laborer" with the other signers:

for the few of us remaining can vouch, I am sure, on behalf of those who have gone before us, that notwithstanding the lowering aspect of the day, no hand trembled on affixing it's signature to that paper.

"Tyler sent Jefferson a copy of his work on parchment, and sometime after May 1818, paid a visit to Monticello, where he spent the day teaching penmanship to Jefferson's family.

"Binns's response to Tyler's success was to dedicate his work to the people of the United States. He sent a proof of the print to Jefferson in 1819 soliciting comments. [The text of his letter to Jefferson.] "[T]he dedication to the people is peculiarly appropriate," Jefferson wrote, "for it is their work, and particularly entitled to my approbation with whom it has ever been a principle to consider individuals as nothing in the scale of the nation." Jefferson added that the print's "great value will be in it's exactness as a fac-simile to the original paper," a comment that foreshadowed Binns's next struggle.

"Binns had hoped to sell 200 copies of his print to the government but was disappointed in 1820 by then secretary of state John Quincy Adams's commission of an exact facsimile of the original by William J. Stone. "

Source: Monticello.


This longer description is from Heritage Auctions, which sold a hand-colored original Binns on December 1, 2022, for $40,000 including the buyer's premium:

"In the aftermath of the War of 1812, a resurgence of patriotism and national pride arose in America. People had begun to revere the famous document that declared the nation's independence nearly forty years earlier as many of its signers were aging and dying. The original Declaration of Independence was available for viewing only to the privileged. John Binns, an Irish-born Philadelphia journalist and publisher of the Democratic Press, was one of the first to realize in June of 1816 of the potential market for a 'splendid and correct copy of the Declaration of Independence, with fac-similes of all the signatures, the whole to be encircled with the arms of the thirteen States and of the United States' (as described in his solicitation for subscribers). He promised delivery in one year, but the enormity of the undertaking delayed publication until 1819, by which time a competitor, Benjamin Owen Tyler, had rushed a less elaborate facsimile into production.

"Tyler may have beaten Binns to the printer, but Binns' extraordinary attention to detail, as evidenced by this stunning copy, overshadows his competitor's efforts, and he can certainly be given credit for doing superior work; he used as many as five artists at a time to work on the design. He borrowed portraits to copy, gathered models for the thirteen state seals, and even painted the American eagle from life."

Reference: Bidwell, American History in Image and Text, 5; Hart 594.

Source: Heritage Auctions

Learn more about the historical background of this print, including information from the National Park Service, the Library of Congress, and leading auction houses here.  

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