An early engraving of the Declaration of Independence


As early as 1817, the Declaration of Independence had begun to fade. In 1820 Secretary of State John Quincy Adams asked William J. Stone, a Washington, DC, printer and engraver, to make a copper engraving reproducing the size, text, lettering, and signatures of the original. Stone finished his printing plate in 1823 and printed 200 copies from it on parchment for Federal, state, and local officials, as well as for the descendants of the original signers. He was later allowed to print and sell an unknown number of copies. In 1976, printers from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing struck seven additional prints from Stone’s copperplate to commemorate the Bicentennial of the American Revolution.

National Archives, General Records of the Department of State



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