I’m going to let you in on a practice I’ve done every Independence Day for the last 15 years or so. No matter how long the parade may be or how many roasted hot dogs and chilled beers that have been served, I always steal a quiet moment away from the family and friends.
That’s when I read the Declaration of Independence. Seriously. I’ve made it a holiday habit no different than hanging stockings by the fire or digging costumes out of the basement.
A few years ago I found a small booklet of the Declaration in a thrift store and it is stored in my office bookcase. It’s there next to a bound copy of the Constitution my parents gave me at my college graduation.
This year the Declaration of Independence – one of 26 known to exist from the original July 4, 1776, printing – was the centerpiece of a kick-off event with thousands of schoolchildren from around the country on the campus of the University of Maryland to commemorate National History Day on June 14.
This rare Declaration of Independence is one of the original 200 “Dunlap Broadsides” printed on July 4, 1776, and is now owned by Hollywood producer and philanthropist Norman Lear, who lent the document to honor National History Day’s students and teachers.
Annually, half a million students participate in this national program by creating presentations that bring primary-source research to life through table-top exhibitions, documentaries, live performances, websites and research papers.
Programs like these get children interested in history and, I like to think, an eventual awareness and passion for antiques and collectibles.
So I’m asking all of our readers to take 10 minutes to read the entire Declaration of Independence … and share at least a few of the graspable terms with a young person in you life. In the long run, it’s good for our country and good for our hobby.
You may enjoy these articles on Americana antiques and collectibles:
• July 2008: Rare 1823 Stone facsimile of the Declaration of Independence brings
$132,000 at Swann Galleries’ June 5 auction
• June 2010: Art Markets: World War I poster art rooted in propaganda
• July 2009: Collection Spotlight: One man’s passion for pulp
for more related articles.
Shop our library of Americana reference books and price guides with topics ranging from military artifacts (Civil War through Vietnam), advertising and sports nostalgia.
-posted by Eric Bradley