In Congress, July 4, 1776. A Declaration By the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress Assembled
[Chicago]: R. R. Donnelley & Sons Co., . Facsimile. Broadside, 15 3/4" x 19 1./2" Fine.
In the early hours of July 5, 1776, Philadelphia printer John Dunlap set the Declaration of Independence in type under the supervision of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams. He printed a small number of broadsides for distribution to leaders in the colonies, as ordered by Congress. This was the first appearance of the Declaration in print. Of these original Dunlap Broadsides there are just 26 known survivors, some of which are fragments.
This is the most painstakingly accurate facsimile of a Dunlap Broadside ever made. It was produced by R. R. Donnelley's Lakeside Press in 1970. Donnelley was doing conservation work on an original that had been discovered in the closing inventory of Leary's Book Store in Philadelphia, and bought at auction by Ira G. Corn, Jr. and Joseph P. Driscoll.
No expense was spared to create an exact replica of the original Corn/Driscoll copy. Special laid paper was made to match the original, and then die-cut to its exact size and shape, including the tiny nicks to its edges. The sheets were then tinted front and back using Donnelley's DeepTone process to exactly match the stains and subtle paper tones of the original. These sheets were then printed by letterpress to closely match Dunlap's presswork.
The purpose of this facsimile was two-fold. First, the owners of the original commissioned it so that the document's "enjoyment could be more widespread." Second, Donnelley got permission to print additional facsimiles for friends of their company "as a demonstration of the work Donnelley craftsmen do for our customers." It is uncertain how many facsimiles were printed, but probably a few hundred.