Benjamin Franklin Book-Related Items to Auction

Freeman's Hindman

Franklin Printing Company shop sign, circa 1920

A selection of rare objects commemorating bibliophile, printer and Founding Father Benjamin Franklin feature in the April 30 Freeman's | Hindman American Furniture, Folk and Decorative Arts sale.

Among them is a previously unrecorded c. 1778 portrait of Benjamin Franklin, attributed to the English portraitist Mason Chamberlin. It shows Franklin seated in his study, wearing a powdered wig and brown suit, with one hand resting on an open book while the other holds his folding spectacles (estimate: $50,000 - $80,000).

Also featured is a painted wood Franklin Printing Company shop sign, circa 1920, by Edward Penfield (1866-1925) which has an estimate of $800 - $1,200. It is double-sided, mounted with wrought iron hardware, inscribed, “Founded in 1728 by Benjamin Franklin/ Franklin Printing Company," and signed with artist's cipher. This sign was produced for the Franklin Printing Company's shop front at their 514-520 Ludlow Street location which was newly renovated in 1920. The company originated from Benjamin Franklin's original printing operation, and went through several iterations over the following centuries

The lots also include a circa 1780 unglazed porcelain figural group depicting Louis XVI and Benjamin Franklin by Charles-Gabriel Sauvauge. It commemorates the treaties signed in 1778 by France and the United States, recognizing American Independence and guaranteeing trade rights between the two nations without British interference. Inscribed “Liberté Des Mers” the king is shown in court dress in contrast to Franklin’s plain dress (estimate: $15,000 - $25,000).