Published: March 30, 2016
NEW YORK CITY — A rare July 1776 broadside printing of the Declaration of Independence by Ezekiel Russell of Salem, Mass.-Bay — the colony’s authorized edition — which was sent to an Ipswich Pastor to be read to his congregation, will cross the auction block on Tuesday, April 5, at 1 pm, during Heritage’s historical manuscripts auction at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
“The earliest broadside printings of the Declaration, of which this is one, were ephemeral in nature and extremely few have survived to this day,” said Sandra Palomino, director of historical manuscripts at Heritage Auctions. “This document was printed within days of the founding of the United States and has survived almost 250 years since that time. It’s an extraordinary thing.”
The Declaration was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, proclaiming the 13 American colonies to be independent sovereign states, no longer part of the British Empire, but rather part of a new nation, the United States of America.
It’s a common, but erroneous, assumption that the familiar handwritten Declaration, with its numerous signatures below, was the original drafted version of the document. That version was not written until July 19 and not signed by all the original signers until early August. The text of this present broadside precedes that and contains the original opening title: “In Congress, July 4, 1776. A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress Assembled.”
On July 17, 1776, the Massachusetts Bay Council resolved to order an official printing. This copy of that printing was sent to the Rev. Lev. Frisbie, a minister in Ipswich, the tenth pastor of the First Congregationalist Church at Ipswich, Mass., and, notably, it was signed in type by only two at the close: “Signed by Order and in Behalf of the Congress, John Hancock, President. Attest, Charles Thompson [sic], Secretary.” The later version is, of course, signed by 56 delegates.
Research shows that the last time a copy of this Salem broadside sold at public auction was in 2004 and the price achieved was $456,000. Heritage has estimated this copy to sell for $160,000 or higher.
The Waldorf Astoria is at 301 Park Avenue. For more information, www.ha.com or 877-437-4824.
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