Peter Force's American Archives -
Peter Force. American Archives: Consisting
of a Collection of Authentick Records, State Papers, Debates, and
Letters and Other Notices of Publick Affairs, the Whole Forming a
Documentary History of the Origin and Progress of the North
American Colonies; of the Causes and Accomplishment of the American
Revolution; and of the Constitution of Government for the United
States, to the Final Ratification Thereof. Complete in nine
volumes, comprising: Fourth Series: From the King's Message, of
March 7th, 1774 to the Declaration of Independence, by the United
States, in 1776. Washington, D.C., 1837-1846. Complete in six
volumes. [and:] Fifth Series: From the Declaration of Independence,
in 1776, to the Definitive Treaty of Peace with Great Britain, in
1783. Washington, D.C., 1848-1853. Complete in three volumes. First
edition. The set complete in nine large quarto volumes (13.75 x
8.75 inches), comprising the complete Fourth Series and Fifth
Series [all published]. Pages double-columned, with each column
enumerated as a separate page; each volume approximately 1,800
"columns." Indices. Maps, facsimile documents (some folding).
Modern full black cloth, with gilt titles on spine. Text foxed.
Near fine condition.
With the Magnificent Stone Facsimile of
the Declaration of Independence
[Complete with:] William J. Stone for Peter Force: The Declaration of Independence. Single oversized sheet, approximately 29 x 24.5 inches, copperplate engraving on thin rice paper. Folded and placed in Volume I, Fifth Series. Vertical and horizontal creases. One tear, approximately 4 inches on the right margin near the mount (affecting some text), and another tear, approximately 1 inch on the left margin, not affecting text. In 1820, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams had commissioned William J. Stone of Washington to engrave an exact copy of the original Declaration of Independence onto a copperplate, a process which took three years to complete. Stone used a new Wet-Ink transfer process to create a copperplate from which facsimile copies could then be made. By wetting the original document, some of the original ink was transferred to the copperplate, which was then used for printing. There were 201 official parchment copies struck from the Stone plate. These are identified as "Engraved by W. J. Stone for the Department of State, by order" in the upper left corner, followed by "of J. Q. Adams, Sec. of State July 4th 1824" in the upper right corner. Stone kept one copy for himself (this copy now resides in the Smithsonian) and delivered 200 copies to the Department of State. In 1833, historian and printer Peter Force, under contract with the Department of State authorized by an act of Congress, planned to compile a vast work in at least twenty volumes, to be known as the American Archives, a Documentary History of the English Colonies in North America. It included legislative records, documents, and historic private correspondence. Six volumes were published from 1837-1846 and three more were published between 1846-1853. The nine volumes covered the years 1774-1776. The "Wet Ink" copperplate created by William J. Stone had been removed from storage and, from it, Force printed copies on rice paper. In the lower left of each copy, Force printed: "W. J. STONE SC. WASHN." These documents were then folded and inserted into the American Archives collection.
Peter Force's unfinished mammoth series documenting the early history of the North American colonies. He had initially planned twenty volumes in six "series," but only nine were completed: the volumes containing documents of the Revolutionary War era. The First, Second, Third, and Sixth Series were never published. "This great storehouse of British Colonial and American history was printed by order of the United States Government. It was the intention to divide the work into six series, from 1493 to 1789. The nine volumes described are all that have appeared" (Sabin). Peter Force (1790-1868) drew on his own huge private collection of printed and manuscript documents relating to the history of North America and the United States as sources for these Archives. When the Library of Congress was established in 1867, one year before his death, his treasure trove of documents was purchased -- by an Act of Congress -- for the astounding sum of $100,000. A massive work and an invaluable collection of Americana with the famous Declaration of Independence facsimile - not usually found as issued with the set.
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