The John Dunlap Broadside
The first printed copy of the Declaration of Independence was
done by John Dunlap on the night of July 4th, 1776. It is believed that 200 copies of the Dunlap Broadside
There are 26 known surviving copies of the Dunlap Broadside. Each of the surviving
copies of the Dunlap Broadside can be accounted for. One copy was placed in the Journal
of the Second Continental Congress, attached with sealing wax. This copy is owned by the National Archives in Washington,
D.C. The Library of Congress holds two copies; Yale University holds a copy, to name just a few. The
26th copy was discovered in October 2008 by rare book dealer Joseph Felcone of Princeton, NJ, while at the National
Archives of the UK, in London, working on a descriptive bibliography of 18th-century New Jersey printing.
19th, 1776, the Continental Congress authorized Timothy Matlack to prepare a hand inscribed copy
(engrossed copy) of the Declaration of Independence on parchment. The so-called
engrossed copy was finished and presented to the Continental Congress on August 2nd, at which time it was
signed by most members. The engrossed copy is entitled The unanimous Declaration of
the thirteen United States of America. This single copy of the unanimous
Declaration is on display at the National Archives, Washington, D.C.
The William Stone Copy of the Unanimous
"By 1820 the original Declaration of Independence showed serious signs of deterioration and
wear from handling. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams commissioned William Stone to engrave an exact copy of the
original [engrossed copy of the Declaration of Independence] onto a copper plate,
and in 1823 Congress ordered 200 official copies printed on vellum. (Fewer than 40 of Stone's printings on vellum
are known to have survived.) All subsequent exact facsimiles of the Declaration descend from this Stone plate."
— from a Bauman Books advertisement.
Other Printed Copies of the Declaration of Independence
care was taken to ensure that the original printings of the Declaration of Independence (Dunlap
broadside, engrossed copy, Stone facsimile, etc.) were free from clerical errors. However, other
printings of the Declaration of Independence, in books, pamphlets, periodicals, and newspapers,
were carelessly frought with errors. Errors or not, these many additional "hosting works" in which the Declaration
of Independence was printed are themselves important and valuable sources of information.