William Woodruff's lithographic broadside of the Declaration of Independence with portraits of Washington, Adams and Jefferson and the armorial bearings of the 13 original states, printed years prior to Peter Force's 1848 facsimile engraving
signed22" x 30"
c. 1841·New York
by Declaration of Independence
New York, c. 1841. 22" x 30". "Broadside, In Congress, July 4th, 1775. The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America. (New York: Phelps & Ensign, [c. 1841]) 22"" x 30"" bearing the text of the Declaration of Independence and reproductions of the signatures, framed by emblems of the thirteen original states and portraits of Washington, Jefferson and Adams at top. Engraved dedication above the publication slug reads: ""To the People of the United States this Engraving of the Declaration of Independence is most respectfully inscribed by their fellow citizen / Wm Woodruff.” Marginal tears and creases well clear of text and images, light foxing and soiling, else very good condition. In 1816, John Binns of Philadelphia announced he was going to publish “a splendid and correct copy of the Declaration of Independence, with facsimiles of all the signatures, the whole to be encircled with the arms of the thirteen States and of the United States.” Many Americans had never even seen the text of the document which was originally viewed as an instrument of separation from England, but by then was regarded as a symbol of American nationalism. It took a while for Binns to prepare his Declaration for publication. On February 20, 1819, William Woodruff printed his own version, which greatly resembled what Binns eventually published in October/November 1819. Binns accused Woodruff of stealing his design and filed a lawsuit against him. The issue of authorship of prints was addressed in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Third Circuit, Comprising the Districts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, in Binns v. Woodruff (1821). Supreme Court Justice Bushrod Washington held that the statute covered only two situations: (1) where the claimant not only invented and designed the work, but also engraved or etched it; or (2) where the claimant invented or designed the work, but had another do the physical engraving. Binns had illustrated his broadside with previously published engravings. In Binns v. Woodruff, Justice Washington concluded, “neither the design, nor general arrangement of the print, nor the parts which composed it, were the invention of the plaintiff” and found that the plaintiff, Binns, was not entitled to copyright. In addition, Justice Washington observed that “the opinion upon this point renders it unnecessary to compare the defendant’s print with that claimed by the plaintiff, for the purpose of deciding whether the former is such a copy of the latter as was intended by the act.” Part of Woodruff’s defense, which it turns out was not needed, was that he did not use “facsimiles of the several signatures to that instrument” as were illustrated on Binns’ document. On Woodruff's 1819 broadside, the text of the Declaration appeared inside a very ornate circular frame formed by a wreath and seals of the 13 original colonies, topped by portraits of the first three Presidents, Washington, Adams, and Jefferson, several flags, and an American Heraldic Eagle. The signatures were uniformly printed (except for Hancock's) rather than being facsimiles of the actual signatures. In addition, Woodruff had replaced the portrait of John Hancock on Binns’ Declaration with one of John Adams.
" (Inventory #: 59355)
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