I’m not sure there is much of a contest for the “most historic event of the Revolutionary War”. Can anyone make a case for anything beyond the Declaration of Independence? We’d all love to hear from you if so.
My experience is that this document is the most desired to have in an American newspaper, not just from this era but from the entire spectrum of American history. Well, an exception might be an issue of “Public Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestic“, the Sept. 25, 1690 newspaper printed in Boston which lasted but one day and of which only one copy is known to exist. I’d trade that remarkable find for a Declaration of Independence, but nothing else.
A year or so ago I was aware of a Philadelphia newspaper containing the Declaration of Independence which brought over $400,000 in auction. So much for the average collector adding an American printing to their collection, which is why interest has been heightened in British periodicals with the document.
And it did appear in at least several British magazines and newspapers. The popular “Gentleman’s Magazine” from London carried it in their August, 1776 issue as did the “Universal Magazine” and the “London Magazine“. The “Gentleman’s & London Magazine” carried the historic text in their September issue (note: the only American magazine in print in 1776, the “Pennsylvania Magazine”, carried the Declaration text in their July issue).
It’s curious that the “London Gazette” newspaper never printed the Declaration, likely for political reasons, but it did appear in the “London Chronicle” of August 17 as well as the “Edinburgh Evening Courant” issue of August 21. I suspect we’ve sold other British periodicals containing the Declaration through the years but their titles & dates escape me.
With American imprints containing the Declaration likely to remain out of reach for most collectors–but we always hope for that magical find–I would encourage consideration of printings in other periodicals. British titles are the best as there is no language barrier and they are from a country which had, should we say, a vested interest in the event. And their prices are still within the range of many collectors. The “Gentleman’s Magazine” printing are typically under $4000 when in inventory and the “London Chronicle” is still in four figures. I suspect French, Dutch or German printings would have less interest to the average collector, although their prices would be lower when they become available.
The key for any nice newspaper collection is having a period printing, meaning a report from the time it happened. A printing of the Declaration in 1799 or 1826 just wouldn’t have the collector appeal of a July, August, or even September printing from 1776.
How desirable is owning a period printing of the Declaration of Independence to you, and what date, title, or condition compromises are you willing to make to add such an issue to your collection?