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Prints of Benjamin Franklin

The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd.Historical Prints

Prints of Benjamin Franklin


Autobiography frontispiece
Anon. "Benj. Franklin. L.L.D. F.R.S. Where Liberty dwells, There is my Country." Dublin: 1793. Frontispiece from Works of the late Doctor Benjamin Franklin Consisting of his Life, Written by Himself. 4 3/16 x 2 1/3 (oval). Stipple engraving on laid paper. Archivally backed. Top margin trimmed beyond plate mark not affecting image.

A very curious portrait of Benjamin Franklin which was a frontispiece to his autobiography which was published in Dublin, Ireland. Not in Sellers, Benjamin Franklin in Portraiture. $275

Franklin rebus
After Benjamin Franklin. "The Art of Making Money Plenty in every Man's Pocket: by Doctor Franklin." New York: A. Lay, ca. 1820. 11 1/4 x 7 1/2. Engraving by Peter Maverick. Engraved portrait after C.N. Cochin [with fur hat]. Laid paper. Narrow margins. Several repaired tears with three into the image. Corners slightly chipped. Otherwise, good condition.

A well known and humorous print, or rebus, represents visually Franklin's teachings that honesty, industry, and frugality are the keys to wealth. This rebus was first published in 1791 and continued to be issued throughout the 19th century. A rebus, Latin meaning "By things," is a word puzzle which uses pictures to represent words, parts of words, or sounds of words. The writing of correspondence in rebus form became popular in the 18th century and continued into the 19th century.

The rebus can be transcribed as follows:

At this [time] w[hen] the [major] complaint is t[hat] [money] [i]s so s[car]ce [i]t must [bee] an act of kindness, [toe] in[form] the [money]less, how they [can] reinforce their [pockets]. [Eye] w[i]ll acquaint [yew] with the t[rue] secret, of [money] [cat]ching, the certain way [toe] fill empty [purses], and how [toe] keep them [awl]ways full. Two simple [rules], [well] observed, w[i]ll do the bus[eye]ness. -- 1st. Let ho[nest]y and [hard work] [bee] thy const[ant] Com[pan]ions: 2d. S[pen]d one [twopenney] every day, less than thy cl[ear] gains; T[hen] sh[awl] thy [pockets] soon [bee]gin to thr[eye]ve, thy cred[eye]tors will n[eve]r insult thee, nor w[ant] op[press], nor hunger [bit]e, nor [frost] freeze thee: The whole hemi[sphere] will sh[eye]ne [brig]hter, and pleasure sp[ring] up in every [corn]er of thy [heart]. Now therefore, emb[race] these [rules], and [bee] happy.
This rebus was originally published and engraved by Peter Maverick (1780-1831) in 1817. Not long after Maverick published his print, Lay acquired the plate and replaced his name as publisher. One of the earliest versions of this rebus one can obtain and engraved by one of the best American engravers at the time. $525

Schussele: Franklin before Lords
Christian Schussele. "Franklin Before The Lords In Council, Whitehall Chapel, London 1774. This engraving from the Original Painting is respectfully Dedicated to the People of the United States by the Publisher." Philadelphia: John M. Butler, 1860. 27 x 39 1/4 (image) plus margins. Steel engraving by Robert Whitechurch. Full hand color. Print backed with archival paper. Two repaired tears in bottom margin not affecting image. Four small areas of loss in bottom portion of image and into bottom margin expertly filled and inpainted. Else, very good condition. $2,200

In June of 1773, the House of Representatives in Massachusetts petitioned the crown for the removal from office of Governor Hutchinson. Benjamin Franklin, as an agent of that body, was assigned the task of presenting its demand in London. This was in response to letters written by Hutchinson, intercepted by Franklin and sent to Boston, in which Hutchinson stated that England must do something to prevent the state from separating from Britain. This print shows Franklin's appearance before the Privy Council at the Cockpit in Whitehall on January 29, 1774. Franklin was in an embarrassing position for he was British deputy postmaster general in North America and also a spokesman for the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Every member of the Privy council attended and spectators came in numbers. News of the Boston Tea Party arrived in London at this time and there was a lot of anti-American feeling. Attending were Lord North and General Gage. Franklin himself did not speak, but was represented by two lawyers who strongly urged the removal of Hutchinson. This was rejected and Franklin was ridiculed and deprived of his position as deputy postmaster general. Franklin stayed in London for another fourteen months to try to ease the strain between England and the colonies, but it was after this event that Franklin saw himself as an American and not as an Englishman.

Charles G. Crehen after Fredericks. "Benjamin Franklin." New York: William Schaus, ca. 1855. Lithographed by C.G. Crehen. Printed by J.H. Bufford, Boston. Tinted lithograph. 25 1/2 x 19 1/4. Expertly repaired tears (2) in margins, else, very good condition.

A large bust portrait of Franklin drawn by Charles G. Crehen after a portrait by Fredericks. The print is part of a series of portraits of eminent Americans published by William Schaus. Schaus in 1847 was sent to New York by the Paris firm of Goupil, Vibert & Co. as their American agent, but in 1850 he set up on his own as a print publisher. As one of his first projects he intended to issue twelve portraits a year in a series called the "Illustrious Americans," which was to include Daniel Webster, General Lafayette, and Benjamin Franklin. The lithographic artist, Charles Crehen, was a Frenchman who immigrated to the United States in 1850. Crehen worked as an artist in many different cities around the country and was particularly known for his portraits. In the Schaus series, Crehen produced larger-than-life drawings on stone based on extant images, and these were printed as tinted lithographs by J.H. Bufford of Boston. This striking portrait is typical of the series, with an imposing yet humane bust image of Franklin. $450

Franklin by Jno. Lodge
"Benjamin Franklin." 19th century engraving by Jno. Lodge. Image ca 2 3/4 x 2 1/2. Very good condition.

A nice small engraving based on the portrait from Almon's Intelligencer (1777). $65

Book plate engraved portrait from the 19th century:


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