Sep 26, 2019 - Sale 2517

Sale 2517 - Lot 91

Price Realized: $ 4,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 3,000 - $ 4,000
(DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.) Early handkerchief printing of the Declaration with facsimile signatures and state seals. Printed in red on cambric, 32 1/2 x 27 inches; 7 small holes near upper edge, light staining, laid down on later board, minor wear. [Glasgow?], circa 1820s

Additional Details

The first handkerchief of this design was apparently produced in 1821 by Colin Gillespie of Glasgow, Scotland for the American market. It took its basic design from the 1819 William Woodruff printing of the Declaration (see lot 90 above), with an interior oval oak wreath frame featuring of portraits of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson, and the seals of the 13 original states. The facsimile signatures are taken from the Binns broadside of the same year (or perhaps from Woodruff's separately printed sheet of facsimiles), though with some rearrangement, and the oval is topped with draped spears and an eagle much as Woodruff had used. Gillespie added two vignettes in the lower corners: one of the Boston Tea Party ("the Patriotic Bostonians discharging the British Ships in Boston harbour") and another of "Genl. Burgoyn's Surrender to Genl. Gates at Saratoga."
The National Advocate newspaper of New York offered a glowing review of the production in 1821, calling it "the finest specimen of printing on cambric ever produced" and urging that "our manufacturers should make it a practice to print their handkerchiefs with such representations of national events as will tend to perpetuate them, by exciting patriotic feelings, and keeping alive the remembrance of such events." The review was reprinted in several newspapers across the country, such as the Hagerstown Torch Light of 29 May 1821 and the Vincennes Western Sun of 30 June 1821.
We have seen at least three different textile printings, each with different borders but otherwise very similar in design. One has a border of stars circled in rope; and one has a border of grape vines, beehives, and flags. The present example has a border of cannons, anchors, and stacked cannon balls; it is the most frequently seen of the three, and we would guess the latest, though none are dated and none bear any imprint line. It's possible that the later printings were done in the United States in imitation of Gillespie's work. All three versions would appear to date from the 1820s. Two examples of the present version appear in Collins, Threads of History, 23 and 58.