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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Original Declaration of Independence

Original Declaration of Independence found in Philadelphia

Original Declaration of Independence found at Leary's Book Store in Philadelphia

I thought I would post one additional item pertaining to the Declaration of Independence before closing out this month. As readers may remember, I spent the entire month of June -- leading up to the 4th of July -- announcing my new presentation and exhibit titled "Christ, Creation, and the Declaration of Independence" that I have created for the Semiquincentennial celebration. I had ordered this press photo in June, but it got lost in the mail, and was finally delivered on July 27.

I am very glad that they found it, because it shows the actual first printing of the Declaration of Independence. It was found stashed away in a book store in Philadelphia, It is now one of the most famous of the copies that were printed overnight on July 4-5, 1776 by printer John Dunlap. It is also interesting to note that this particular piece -- more than likely -- remained in Philadelphia, while the other copies were dispatched throughout the colonies.

Declaration was found at Leary's Book Store in Philadelphia

As you can see and read on the top press photo, it was being readied for its offering at auction. It was purchased in 1969 for $404,000.00 by Ira G. Corn, Jr. and Joseph P. Driscoll of Texas

They then proceeded to do something very interesting indeed: in 1970 they arranged for R.R. Donnelley & Sons of Chicago to painstakenly reproduce exacting copies. Special paper was made, and it was die-cut to match the edges of the original. It's surface was matched -- both front and back -- to show every detail of the Philadelphia piece. I believe that they were then printed via letterpress -- with customized type cast from the impressions that Dunlap's press had made upon the original. All-in-all, there was no expense, nor time, spared to create what is today known as one of the greatest facsimile recreations in the history of the printing industry.

In Congress, July 4, 1776. A Declaration By the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress Assembled.

Corn-Driscoll copy of Dunlap Broadside at Dallas Public Library

I am very happy (and blessed) to be able to have one of these Corn-Driscoll facsimiles in the Wonders of the Bible collection. In addition to the facsimile, I have copies of the original R.R. Donnelley paperwork that went with it as well.

There are 26 known copies of the Dunlap Broadside (as its known), both full sheets and fragments. It is not known how many of the Corn-Driscoll facsimilies are known to still exist.

As an interesting side-note, the Dunlap Broadside was on exhibit for the Bicentennial's American Freedom Train tour -- but -- it was not an actual Dunlap from 1776 ... it was a Corn-Driscoll facsimile that was on the train!

Come out to one of my presentations now (2020) through the year 2026, and see my collection of Declaration's. I will present how the Word of God gets to us through visual arts, science, and communication technologies ... showing, telling, and exhibiting that history. And, don't forget, you'll also get a chance to view the World's Smallest Declaration of Independence through a powerful laboratory microscope. You'll not find anything like it anywhere!

Frank showing the world's smallest Declaration of Independence

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Apocalypse 1554, Lyons, France

Title page to the Book of Revelation (Apocalypsis). It contains Chapter 1:1-4, along with several beautiful woodcuts. Its size is 3 x 4.5 inches (7.5 x 12 cm), so it is a rather small leaf. It was printed in Lyons, France by Sebastian Gryphius, 1544 edition.

I love to collect title pages, and my focus -- whenever possible -- is on the title pages of both Genesis and Revelation ... the first and last books of the Christian Holy Bible. I have both of these in the first edition, first printing, of the 1611 King James (He) Bible (very rare!), and I like to use them as my "bookends" for the rest of my exhibit items.

Of course, this leaf is printed in Latin. This is Jerome's "standard" version, and it quickly took over all other Latin versions. His sources include many of the "Old Latin" Bibles, and also from non-Latin sources, such as the Septuaginta (Greek translation of the Old Testament), and whatever Greek manuscripts of the New Testament he could find.

Today, it is known as the Vulgate Bible (Biblia Vulgata; Biblia Latina; and Biblia Sacra, Latin for Holy Bible).

It was made to be more accurate and easier to understand than the Old Latin versions, using everyday Latin rather than the more "elegant" Ciceronian Latin.

It reigned supreme in the Western Church, even over the Greek and Hebrew versions, for over one thousand years.

For me, personally, I am fascinated by the "Old" Latin translations, because -- if I understand correctly -- the eventual King James Bible and the Protestant Reformation grew out of the very early use of the Old Latin translations. I'm assuming that this information and history is not of very great interest to others, because there is very little to learn about it. I believe that they would be known as the Italic translations -- i.e. the Italia Bible of 157 -- and the groups themselves behind them were actually the precursors to the eventual Protestant Reformation.

The lineage would be: Peshitta Bible 150; Italia Bible 157; Wycliff Bible 1382; Erasmus Bible 1522; Tyndale Bible 1525; Luther Bible 1534; Coverdale Bible 1535; Matthew Bible 1537;  The Great Bible 1539; Stephanus Bible 1550; Geneva Bible 1560; Bishop Bible 1568; Beza Bible 1604; King James 1611.

In any case, this is the Jerome Latin Vulgate -- which didn't have very much to do with the Reformation movement itself, other than spur on new translations by others such as William Tyndale (ex: changing the term "penance" to "repentance", etc.).

Sunday, July 5, 2020

How to Pronounce Semiquincentennial

As the year 2026 approaches, you may begin to see the word "Semiquincentennial" used more frequently. The word stands for "250". It means one forth of one thousand years. It will be used for the upcoming 250th celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and the birth of the United States of America.

Here is a short audio clip that I've made, so that you can hear how it is pronounced:

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Toppan Micro Engraving of Declaration of Independence 1840

Only July 4, 1840, in Philadelphia, PA, Charles Toppan engraved the plate that was used to make this print of the Declaration of Independence. It is shown next to the size of a U.S. penny for comparison.

The words are so small, that one needs a strong magnifying glass, or even a microscope, to read it.

The Declaration is surrounded by the seal of the United States at the 12-o'clock position, with Thomas Jefferson on the immediate left, and George Washington on the immediate right. The original 13 colonies are then shown surrounding the text.

(above photo) Details of the Charles Toppan engraving of the Declaration of Independence.

Once a plate is created, it can be used over and over again for copies. This particular copy was printed by the American Bank Note Company. The printing date is estimated to be around 1859-1860. It was used for promotion. rABN (as it is known) would late go on to work with lasers and holography, producing the American Eagle cover of the National Geographic magazine in the 1980s.

Toppan also did an engraving of Thomas Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration n 1829.

(above photo) The engraving matted and framed.

If it could possibly be reproduced accurately, this Declaration would fit onto the back of a standard sized business card. But it would take an incredible job at printing to do so.

As it stands, it is now part of the Wonders of the Bible collection, to go along with all of the recent acquisitions pertaining to the U.S. Declaration (and its references to God). It will be on display as we approach the semiquincentennial 250th year celebration of the founding of the United States of America in 2026.

The title of my presentation is: "Christ, Creation, and the Declaration of Independence".

Since this is July 4, my series of posts that run through the entire month of June are now complete.

Happy Independence Day!

-- Frank DeFreitas



Friday, July 3, 2020

Semiquincentennial 2026 Celebration Begins NOW

Hello, this is Frank DeFreitas. It has been my pleasure to bring to you the Wonders of the Bible U.S. Semiquincentennial collection for the month of JUNE. Now that the July 4th holiday is upon us, it is time to go back to our regular posts.

But, before we do, I wanted to put together an index page, a table of contents, where you can find all of the collectible exhibition items together on one page.

Of course, in addition to all of the Declaration of Independence items, the exhibit also celebrates the history of our Christian Holy Bible leading up to the founding of the United States of America as well.


This includes: Cuneiform clay tablets; ancient Hebrew scrolls; Handwritten manuscripts; rare Bible pages such as the first edition / first printing of the King James; William Tyndale; Textus Receptus; Robert Aitken; first Bibles printed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware ...



Your eyes when you look through the microscopes to see the world's smallest Declaration of Independence; the world's smallest handwritten Lord's Prayers; world's smallest Biblical Art; including the Smallest Lord's Prayer written by inventor Thomas Edison.



3-D Laser Holograms, Vintage Lenticulars; and 19th Century Christian Stereoview Cards

Bring Wonders of the Bible to your church group to observe the U.S. Semiquincentennial

So, as the excitement builds for the 250th birthday party of America, I hope you will keep Wonders of the Bible in mind as you plan your own celebrations.

Remember: We Can Come to YOU with our exhibit. So please don't hesitate to contact us between now and July 4th, 2026.

The title of our powerpoint presentation is: Christ, Creation, and the Declaration of Independence.

To view the posts that were made during the entire month of JUNE:


And here's the contents of the various posts that I made during this past month of JUNE. Remember, this is just a very, very, small sample of the items that are part of the Wonders of the Bible exhibits and presentations for the Semiquincentennial:

President Kennedy reads the Declaration of Independence

American Freedom Train 1975-1976

William Stone Declaration Engraving

Theodore Ohman Declaration 1942

Declaration for the Semiquincentennial Podcast

Thomas Jefferson in Philly: First Draft of Declaration

References to God in the Declaration of Independence

1947 Freedom Train Pledge

Promises of a Good Citizen 1947

William Woodruff Declaration of Independence

World War II Troops Bible

Independence Hall: Hold To Light Post Card

Dunlap Broadside in Allentown, PA

Wood Relic from Independence Hall, Philadelphia

Ronald Reagan Reads Declaration of Independence

BIbleAmerica250 Logo

Declaration of Independence Stereoview

Declaration of Independence Pledge Card

Philadelphia Sesqui-Centennial 1926

Declaration of Independence and Portraits of the Presidents 1859

World's Smallest Declaration of Independence


For the full effect of the scope of the Wonders of the Bible collection / exhibition you must visit the main Wonders of the Bible Web site:

#BibleAmerica250 #Semiquincentennial

Thursday, July 2, 2020

President Kennedy reads the Declaration of Independence

Here is a 45 R.P.M. (rotations per minute) audio record containing the voice of President John F. Kennedy reading the Declaration of Independence. As far as I know, it has never been played. Unfortunately, I gave my record player away when we moved into our retirement apartment in 2017. But, soon, I hope to be able to play and record this for your listening pleasure.

I also have the same type of record with President Ronald Reagan reading the Declaration. This recording was done when he was still Governor of California.

Once I have them recorded, I will come back and add the mp3 files to their respective posts.

Wonders of the Bible is preparing to celebrate the 2026 U.S. Semiquincentennial birthday of the founding of the United States of America.