Purse/wallet, late 18th century
Photo courtesy of Robert W....
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Photo courtesy of Robert W. Sullivan IV

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Photo courtesy of Robert W....
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"Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World," Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary traveling exhibition, 2005-2008
Acquired with the wallet by its current owner is a lock of hair that purports to have been cut from Franklin's head. With them is a partial sheet of paper, on which is handwritten: "This lock of hair & old pocketbook belonged to my famous great great grandfather Benjamin Franklin." (signed and dated) "Jane Lownds Bache-Gould / Oct. 8, 1926 / New York City."

The journal of the collector who purchased the wallet contained an entry that described the wallet as having been "a beautiful maroon color, but time has taken its toll...." He repeated the family history of the wallet told him by Jane Gould: Franklin had bought the wallet in London in early 1775, shortly before returning to America; he was "known to have used it extensively and carried it on his person during the late 1770's when we were at war with England."

The line of descent she repeated to the collector was: Franklin to Sarah Franklin Bache, to Dr. William Bache, to Benjamin Franklin Bache, to herself. Details of the wallet, its contents, and its history remain to be clarified; however, the collector's report continues that "Miss Gould" also owned one of Franklin's teeth, encased in a golden acorn, which he declined to buy because "she wanted too large a sum." That tooth in its gold case is still in the hands of descendants.

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