The first printing of the Declaration of Independence ran off the press on July 4, 1776, or early the following day. Over the next couple of weeks, newspaper and broadside printings sped around the nation as the colonists were informed of what their representatives had done in Philadelphia. However, what we envisage as the Declaration of Independence today is not what those colonists saw. There was no exquisite John Hancock signature, just a printing of his name and one other, Secretary Charles Thompson, at the bottom. The actual Declaration had not even been signed at that point. A few weeks later, the original document was signed, but hardly anyone in America ever saw it. It was not until 1818 that most Americans began to get a glimpse of what the Declaration actually looked like. That was the year the first facsimile was printed, by Benjamin Owen Tyler of Washington. He managed to create duplicates of the signatures that were virtually indistinguishable from the originals. Item 14 is a copy of that first facsimile. $25,000.
The greatest expedition in all of American history was undoubtedly that of Lewis and Clark, into the American Northwest, part of the Louisiana Purchase. The journey went from 1804-1806, though the official account was not published until 1814. Item 24 is a copy of the first edition of History of the Expedition Under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark… This copy bears the bookplate of President James Garfield. It also contains an inscription from the man who gave it to him in 1872, Wilbur Fiske Sanders, who lived in Lewis and Clark country, Helena, Montana. Sanders had served under Garfield during the Civil War, and while neither was in high public office at the time, Sanders would go on to be a senator from Montana and Garfield President of the United States. $210,000.
What is the most famous speech ever given in American history? A likely choice would be the Gettysburg Address. Four score and seven years ago… Item 29 is the first authorized edition of this speech, but it bears the unexpected title of Address of the Hon. Edward Everett, at the Consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, 19th November 1863… Didn't Lincoln give the Gettysburg Address? Not really. Lincoln gave some "dedicatory remarks," which lasted a couple of minutes. The main, almost two hour long, but generally forgotten address was given by Senator Edward Everett of Massachusetts. Everett was perhaps the greatest orator of the day, and the featured speaker that morning, the President something of an afterthought. However, for that day at least, Lincoln's brief words outshone those of the great orator Everett, even if that wasn't recognized immediately. $2,500.
The William Reese Company may be reached at 203-789-8081 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website is www.reeseco.com.