"Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World," Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary traveling exhibition, 2005-2008
Date of Accession: 1896-02-04. The table is believed to have belonged to Franklin and to have been sold by his heirs. It was acquired by Eleazar Cohen and bequeathed to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania by Catherine A. Olmsted. A letter from her executor to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania read "...a mahogany table...which her grandfather Eleazer Cohn [sic], according to family traditions purchased in the early part of the century at a sale of the effects of Dr. Franklin. There is no writing to substantiate this and so the best that can be done is merely to acquaint you with the traditions." Following Franklin's death, his family held auctions of household effects. Several objects survive with longstanding histories of having been purchased at an auction of Franklin's possessions. Because there is no "paper trail" from such early sales, it is seldom possible to confirm or deny those attributions with the certainty that contemporary owners desire. However, objects like the dining table combine a later 18th-century style and simplicity of form with an early-19th century tradition of Franklin ownership, making the likelihood of their ownership in Franklin's household reasonable.