Set of stencils in box, 1781-1782
Photo by Peter Harholdt, 2004
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Photo by Peter Harholdt, 2004

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"Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World," Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary traveling exhibition, 2005-2008
Related Publications

Talbott, Page, ed., Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World (New Haven and London: Yale University, 2005) (companion book to exhibition of same title)

Purchased by the American Philosophical Society in 1947 from heirs of Franklin Charles Bache, the box of stencils was purchased by Franklin Bache from Thomas Hewson Bache's estate on January 4, 1913. Throughout his lifetime, Thomas Hewson Bache collected objects associated with Franklin or his family. An 1864 letter from Bache's associate John A. McAllister, of the Franklin Insurance Company, describes the "box of matrices" as having been sold "many years ago to Mr. Robb by Mr. Duane. Mr. R. paid Mr.D $25. The matrices were offered at the Sanitary Fair for that price, but did not meet with a purchase. The Committee who have in charge sundry articles unsold, offer to sell them at $12. If you would like to purchase please write to Mrs. Thomas P. James, Chairman of the Committee on Autographs." Letter quoted in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society for 1948.

In short: the stencils and box are known to have been bought by Franklin, shown at Philadelphia's Sanitary Fair (held to raise funds for the care of Union troops in the Civil War), bought by Thomas Hewson Bache after that event, bought from Bache's estate by Franklin Charles Bache, and bought from his estate by the American Philosophical Society. Terms of Use Credits