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Item 179 - Benjamin Franklin Catalog 560 (Jul 2019)

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(we are no longer accepting bids on this item)
Minimum Bid: $2,500.00
Sold Price: $50,330.00 (includes buyer's premium)


Beautifully penned ALS signed "B. Franklin," one page, 8 x 8.5, February 20, 1774. In a rare letter to his wife, addressed at the top, "My Dear Child," Franklin boldly writes in his unmistakably elaborate and florid script, in full: "I have written fully to you & several Friends by Capt. All; but as I know you like to have a Letter by every Ship, I add this line by Capt. Falconer, just to let you know, that I continue, Thanks to God, in good Health & Spirits, and purpose setting my Face homeward in May next, God willing. My Love to our Children. I am ever, Your affectionate Husband." Archivally mounted, cloth-matted, and framed under UV-protective plexiglass to an overall size of 15.25 x 15.75. In fine condition.

During the early 1770s, Franklin made a series of short trips to England, but Deborah Read Franklin, who feared ocean travel, never accompanied him on his missions abroad. In fact, when Franklin penned this letter, they had not seen each other in nine years. She complained of distress and illness whenever her husband was traveling during the early 1770s, suffering a series of strokes that affected her memory and speech. In January 1774, she had reason to worry as Franklin was called in by the Privy Council and publicly castigated for the release of the Hutchinson Letters in 1772. Received anonymously, they were written by royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson of Massachusetts, who urged the British to send additional troops to Boston.

The letters, which were privately circulated by Franklin, found their way in print when they were published in the June 1773 Boston Gazette. Angry Boston citizens drove Hutchinson from office; the British government retaliated by arresting three innocent men in December 1773 before Franklin admitted circulating the letters. The Hutchinson affair displaced Franklin from his position as postmaster general and he was branded as a fomenter of trouble, losing his standing as the foremost American spokesperson in England. When he returned home in March 1775, his faithful wife had died of a stroke the previous December, and the American Revolution began April 19. A highly desirable, personal, and rare letter which undoubtedly stands as the cleanest and most presentable Franklin letter we have ever encountered.

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