The Hon. John Hancock

From Our Collections Elkins
The Hon. John Hancock

Item Info

Item No: ELK0177551
Title: The Hon. John Hancock
Additional Title: The Hon. John Hancock. Joseph Hiller Fecit.
Publication Year: ca. 1775
Media Type: Copperplate Engravings
Source: Rare Book Department

An engraved portrait of John Hancock, first signer of the Declaration of Independence. Hancock presided over the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia between 1775 and 1777, and later served as governor of Massachusetts. At the age of 30 Hancock may have been the richest man in New England after inheriting his uncle’s fortune. He was a prominent figure of the American Revolution and used his wealth and popularity to support the patriotic cause.

Inscribed below on the left hand of the portrait is "Joseph Hiller Fecit” ,which suggests that Joseph Hiller may have based his engraving on the original painting of John Hancock by John Singleton Copley (1738-1815) or on another engraved copy.  The National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery own two different copies of The Hon. John Hancock engraved by Joseph Hiller. While a very similar copy engraved by William Smith is owned by the Winterthur Museum Collection. The Free Library’s copy represents a later state of printing with the additional text President of the Continental Congress inscribed underneath the portrait image. Other states of this print bear no additional inscription, or display the inscription late Governor in Boston in North America.

Joseph Hiller (1748-1814) was a Boston silversmith and mezzotint engraver. Washington face from John Norman's His Excel: G. Washington Esq  (ELK0017831) is believed to have been based on Hiller’s original engraving of George Washington


"Portrait of John Hancock | National Museum of American History." Home | National Museum of American History. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 July 2013. <>.

Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, and E. McSherry Fowble. 1987. Two centuries of prints in America, 1680-1880: a selective catalogue of the Winterthur Museum collection. Charlottesville: Published for the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum by the University Press of Virginia. PP.113-114. 

Call Number: Elkengravings
Creator Name: Copley, John Singleton, 1738-1815 - Artist
Hiller, Joseph, 1748-1814 - Engraver