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Primary Source of the Month

Printed Handerkerchief. Courtesy of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Printed Handerkerchief, circa 1825. Courtesy of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

The print on this handkerchief is a copy of the John Trumbull painting "The Declaration of Independence." It shows the five members of the committee charged with drafting the document presenting their draft to chairman John Hancock. The base of the handkerchief contains a key of the locations of several prominent signers of the Declaration and imitations of their signatures.

The original painting was commissioned in 1817, purchased in 1819, and hung in the United States Capitol Rotunda in 1826, around the time this handkerchief was made.

The painting shows 48 of the men involved in debating the Declaration, although these men were probably never all in the same room at the same time. This painting is also featured on the reverse side of the
$2 bill.