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Lot 222: (1792) Thomas Paine Engraved Portrait COMMON SENSE Author Activist-Revolutionary
Historic Autographs, Civil War Encased Postage Stamps, Colonial, Revolutionary War, Federal Era, Coins, Currency, Medals
December 10, 2016
Rancho Santa Fe, CA, USALive Auction
Thomas Paine Engraved Portrait
(1792) Federal Period, Engraved Portrait of Thomas Paine, COMMON SENSE Author, English-American Political Activist and Revolutionary, After his Painting by Peale, French, Choice Very Fine.
Thomas Paine arrived in Philadelphia from England in 1774. He had not as yet written anything of significance, but "when the country into which I had just set my foot, was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir." COMMON SENSE, designed "to make those that can scarcely read understand," had a powerful effect in preparing the public for the Declaration of Independence of July 1776. In December Paine, retreating with the demoralized Continental army, penned the first number of The American Crisis, and he continued during critical points of the war to explain events and boost morale until he could say in 1783, "The times that tried men's souls are over."
This is a truly handsome well printed Engraved Portrait with legend: "Thomas Paine Secrtaire du Congrs au departement des affaires etrangres pendant la guerre d'Amrique, auteur du Sens commun et des rponses Burke. Rue du Theatre Francais No4." Peint par Peel Philadelphie, Dessin par F. Bonneville, Grav par Sandoz." This early, much sought after Engraving of Thomas Paine shows his bust-length portrait. Gimbel: 194. The credit line is as follows: "Peint par Peel Philadelphie, Dessin par F. Bonneville, Grav par Sandoz." Earlier versions appeared without the subtitle seen here. It is known to have been published in La Chronique du mois, in 1792. Measures 6.25" x 9.75" boldly printed on heavy wove period paper with full wide margins. A very attractive extremely scarce historic engraving that is excellent for framing and display.
Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was an English-American political activist, philosopher, political theorist and revolutionary. He is considered one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, he authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, and he inspired the rebels in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment-era rhetoric of transnational human rights. He has been called "a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination".
Born in Thetford, England, in the county of Norfolk, Paine emigrated to the British American colonies in 1774 with the help of Benjamin Franklin, arriving just in time to participate in the American Revolution. Virtually every rebel read (or listened to a reading of) his powerful pamphlet Common Sense (1776), proportionally the all-time best-selling American title which crystallized the rebellious demand for independence from Great Britain. His The American Crisis (1776-83) was a prorevolutionary pamphlet series. Common Sense was so influential that John Adams said, "Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain."
Paine lived in France for most of the 1790s, becoming deeply involved in the French Revolution. He wrote Rights of Man (1791), in part a defense of the French Revolution against its critics. His attacks on British writer Edmund Burke led to a trial and conviction in absentia in 1792 for the crime of seditious libel. In 1792, despite not being able to speak French, he was elected to the French National Convention. The Girondists regarded him as an ally. Consequently, the Montagnards, especially Robespierre, regarded him as an enemy.
In December 1793, he was arrested and imprisoned in Paris, then released in 1794. He became notorious because of his pamphlet The Age of Reason (1793-94), in which he advocated deism, promoted reason and free thought, and argued against institutionalized religion in general and Christian doctrine in particular. He also published the pamphlet Agrarian Justice (1797), discussing the origins of property, and introduced the concept of a guaranteed minimum income. In 1802, he returned to the U.S. where he died on June 8, 1809. Only six people attended his funeral as he had been ostracized for his ridicule of Christianity.