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    "The Union Is Dissolved!"

    Charleston Mercury Broadside, December 20, 1860. Possibly the finest specimen known of what is certainly the single most iconic image of the American Civil War. This example recently surfaced (April '09) at a Lancaster County Pennsylvania estate auction folded in the envelope accompanying it, from "The Safe Deposit Co. of New York ....The First Established In The World...Chartered April 1861" in which it had apparently been housed since the war. Written in pencil on the outside of the envelope, "Charleston Merc. The first Secession publication anounc (sic) the Secession act." The envelope was among several boxes of family papers purchased by the consignor who was apparently the only person at the auction aware of its existence and it is offered here for the first time. The 12" x 24" broadside is in truly superb condition as the result of having been stored in the envelope. There is a 1/2" hole at the top center and one small hole and two tiny indentations along the top edge , small holes at the left and right center and small holes on the lower corners, obviously where it was tacked up. There is a hint of aging on the text in the center and two very light, indeed negligible, stains at the lower left edge. Absolutely as sound as the day it was printed with no weakness or tears at the folds, really stunning.

    With the election of Abraham Lincoln many South Carolinians vowed to leave the Union rather that be governed by a "Black Republican" and face the likelihood of the abolition of slavery. In response, Governor Pickens call for a convention to consider secession, and, on Dec. 20, 1860, the 169 delegates in attendance voted unanimously to secede from the Union. The editors of the pro-secession Charleston Mercury recounted that, "Within a few minutes after the announcement of the secession vote our messengers less than fifteen minutes our Extras, containing the long looked for Ordinance, were being thrown off by fast presses and distributed among the eager multitude that thronged under the great banner of the 'Southern Confederacy'." Though many copies of the broadside were printed, very few survived, and in recent auction history none in a condition commensurate with this example. After the war there were many souvenir copies of the broadside made, but there are several obvious points that delineate the original examples: the time of secession on the original broadside is "1.15" while on later editions it has been corrected to "1:15"; an outline around the word "IS" does not appear on later editions; there is broken type at the top of the letter "E" in the word "DISSOLVED" which was corrected in later editions. This specimen, of course, conforms to all of these criteria. A truly remarkable piece of American history, the very first Confederate imprint defining the moment that the American nation was torn asunder. A rare opportunity for the Civil War or American broadside collector.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2009
    25th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 6,877

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