1820 Eleazar Huntington Engraved Declaration of Independence Printed Broadside

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This is an early original broadside printing of the “Declaration of Independence” by Eleazar Huntington, published in Hartford, Connecticut, c.1820.

The Declaration of Independence is the foundation document of the United States and has been printed many times since its original publication in 1776.  At first as broadsides, then as an essential addition to any volume of laws, it was from the beginning a basic work in the American canon. The present document is one of the earliest broadside reproductions of the Declaration, done within a few years of the first broadside republications.

In the period following the War of 1812, Americans began to look back, for the first time with historical perspective, on the era of the founding of the country.  The republic was now forty years old, and the generation of the American Revolution, including the signers of the Declaration, was looking for a way to record all it had accomplished and witnessed. With nostalgia and curiosity, many Americans began to examine the details of the nation’s founding.  Among other things, such documents as the debates of the Constitutional Convention were published for the first time.  It seems extraordinary that the Declaration of Independence, as created, was unknown to Americans, when the text was so central to the national ego.  Several entrepreneurs set out to bridge this gap by printing reproductions of the document.

The first to do so was a writing master named Benjamin Owen Tyler, who created a calligraphic version of the Declaration and published it in 1818, recreating exactly the signatures of the signers as they appeared on the original. Three other broadside printings of the Declaration were issued in 1818 and 1819, each containing ornamental borders or illustrations. These were followed in 1820 by the present printing.

This rare example of the Independence is known as the "Huntington" Declaration of Independence. Huntington was a master calligrapher and engraver who intentionally retained the “feel” of the original Declaration, while incorporating new styles of presentation into his engraving. By using Benjamin O. Tyler's earlier 1818 facsimile Declaration as a model, Huntington insured the famous signatures were faithfully reproduced, without unnecessary embellishment.

Huntington's early broadsides of the Declaration often hung in nineteenth-century schoolhouses, which frequently resulted in condition flaws. This rare copy is well printed and is a far superior in quality than most seen. It is even in its overall appearance and retains better eye appeal for such an early Declaration of Independence engraving.

The broadside is printed on heavy wove period paper. The publication line reads "Engraved by E. Huntington" in small, partially faded, text along the lower margin. It has been beautifully framed to archival conservation standards. Framed dimensions: 44 3/4" H x 40" W x 2 1/4" D.

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