Extremely rare Declaration of Independence print goes on display

Just in time for the Fourth of July, an extremely rare printed copy of the Declaration of Independence has gone on display at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia.

One of the first printed versions of the Declaration of Independence, the parchment was printed by Philadelphia’s John Dunlap in July 1776. Known as a broadside, the parchment is printed on one side.

The historic document is on loan from the American Philosophical Society Library in Philadelphia. This marks the first time that the parchment has been displayed outside the library’s walls.

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“We are honored to be able to share this extraordinary treasure of the American founding with our visitors this summer,” said Dr. R. Scott Stephenson, vice president of collections, exhibitions and programming for the Museum, in a statement. “It is humbling to stand in the presence of such an authentic witness to our nation’s birth.”

“This document has an incredible history to tell,” said Dr. Patrick Spero, Director of the American Philosophical Society Library, in the statement. “We are thrilled to share it with the American people this July 4.”

Dunlap, an Irish immigrant, produced the first public versions of the Declaration on the night of July 4, 1776. Only 26 of the estimated 200 broadsides that Dunlap produced are known to exist. Unlike these initial broadsides, which were printed on paper, the copy currently on display at the Museum of the American Revolution is made of vellum, or parchment. It is the only one of its kind known to exist, according to experts.

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The parchment, which features oversized text, will remain on display until November.

The headquarters flag used by George Washington during the Revolutionary War was recently on display at the Museum of the American Revolution, marking its first public appearance in the city since the war itself.

Revolutionary War artifacts offer a fascinating glimpse into the events that shaped America. Other items in the Museum of the American Revolution’s collection include a host of Revolutionary War-era weapons, artworks and documents. A young American sailor’s journal detailing his harrowing experiences during War, for example, was recently donated to the Museum.

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In August 2017, a Revolutionary War-era knife was unearthed during an archaeological dig at Colonial Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City, Michigan, the latest in a series of amazing finds at the site.

The following month, archaeologists in Boston discovered a centuries-old outhouse that may be linked to the family of Patriot Paul Revere.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers