SHREWSBURY, NJ – The first formal showing of an 1880 reprint of the Declaration of Independence will be on display at the Monmouth County Historical Association’s Allen House during the reading of the Declaration on Monday, July 4 at 10 a.m.
Renee Swartz, Chairman of the Monmouth County Library Commission, said the Commission is pleased to partner with not only the Historical Association but the Shrewsbury Boy Scout Troop, Christ Church, and Mayor Donald Barden in presenting a Fourth of July celebration at the Four Corners Historic District at Route 35 and Shrewsbury Ave. to celebrate the 240th anniversary of the signing the Declaration at Philadelphia.
Swartz said County Library Director Judi Tolchin will bring the unique document to the Allen House prior to the reading of the Declaration hosted by the Historical Association and will have it on display outside, near the entrance to the Allen House, weather permitting.
The reprint was a gift to the Library from F. Neal Warner of Freehold, who donated it to the library several months ago. The library consulted with Monmouth County archivist Gary Saretzky and following his recommendations, had the work restored to archival quality standards by Daniel Fenski of Windsor Gallery, Route 34, Colts Neck.
“We are so very grateful to Mr. Fenski for his generous donation of his talent and work in restoring the reprint to such high standards,” said Swartz. “We were honored with Mr. Warner’s generosity in selecting us for this valuable piece, and are happy to be able to display it for the first time at a Fourth of July ceremony.”
The work, entitled, The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America in Congress is a reprint of Benjamin Owen Tyler’s 1818 version reproduced by Durham and New York: The Giles Lithographic and Liberty Printing Co. for Mess. W. Duke, Sons & Company. Tyler's documents were the first to produce the Declaration in script and included facsimile signatures of the signers. Reportedly, the publisher designed the ornamental writing, retaining the same punctuation and copying each capital letter as in the original document. Professionals have said the facsimile signatures are so exact, it is difficult to tell them from the actual signatures of the original signers.
Following the July 4th showing of the reprint, it will be on permanent display at either the Eastern Branch Library on Route 35 or Headquarters Library, 125 Symmes Drive, Manalapan.
MCHA President Linda Bricker will act as master of ceremonies during the Declaration reading in front of the Allen House, and members of the public in attendance will be asked to read portions out loud. This is the second year the Association is sponsoring the public reading of the Declaration on July 4, recalling how the 18th century population first learned the news.
Shrewsbury Mayor Donald W. Burden, Reverend Lisa Mitchell of Christ Church and Church Historian Bob Kelly will also join in the festivities. The bells at Christ Church will ring in honor of the signing. Shrewsbury Boy Scouts will again serve as color guard during the Pledge of Allegiance at the Allen House.
Following the 10 a.m. reading, costumed interpreters will welcome guests at the Allen House which will remain open for tours and visitors until noon. Christ Church will conduct performances by their Dead Actors Guild. Cookies and lemonade will be served following the ceremony.
Parking is available in the Shrewsbury municipal parking lot across the street from the Allen House.