Benjamin Franklin Papers

James Parker: Valuation of the Printing Office, 27 January 1766

James Parker: Valuation of the Printing Office

ADS: Columbia University Library

The partnership agreement between Franklin and Hall provided that at its termination Hall should “have the Preference of purchasing the said Printing-Presses, Types and Materials (if he shall be so disposed . . .) at their present Value, allowing for the Wear thereof what shall be judged a reasonable Abatement, considering the Time they shall have been used” (above, III, 266). In the power of attorney Franklin gave James Parker, Nov. 5, 1764, before going to England, he directed Parker to examine the accounts of the partnership “and also to value the Printing Presses Types and other Materials for printing belonging to me and now in the Use and Occupation of the said David Hall and which he has agreed to purchase of me at the rate of such Valuation” as Parker should make on Franklin’s behalf (above, XI, 442).

Parker undertook this appraisal toward the end of January 1766, drew up this detailed account on the 27th, and incorporated its total as entry 72 in his financial report of February 1 (below, p. 98). In his letter of February 3 he described the worn condition of much of the type and the presses and explained the methods used in weighing the type. These methods, it may be added, are virtually unchanged today.

Quantity and Valuation of the Printing-Office, as taken Jan. 27: 1766. per J Parker


383 Old Brevier,7 much worn, and worth little more than Old Metal, at 8d. per lb. £12 15 4
282 Newer Brevier, 7 Years worn, valued at 1s. 3d. per lb. 17 12 6
663 Burgois, eight years worn at 1s. 3d. 41 8 9
436 Long Primer, well worn at 1s. 2d. 25 8 8
318 Small Pica, almost worn out at 10d. 13 5 0
421 Pica, Old, and much batter’d at 10d. 17 10 10
334 Old English, fit for little more than Old Metal at 8½ 11 16 7
502 Newer English, near half-worn at 1s. 3d. 31 7 6
223 Great Primer, well worn at 1s. 2d. 13 0 2
158 Double Pica, pretty good, at 1s. 4d. 10 10 8
91 Double English Do at 1s. 2d. 5 6 2
70 Flowers8 at 2s. 7 0 0
53 Figures, Planets, Space Rules, Black Letter,9 at 2s. 3d. 5 19 3
63 Large and Title Letter, some old some good at 1s. 3 3 0
40 Quotations, Justifiers1 &c. at 1s. 2 0 0
3 Crooked Letters, at 1s. 0 3 0
85 Cases,2 some Old and shatter’d at 5s. 21 5 0
13 Frames3 at 8s. 5 4 0
15 Chaces,4 some large, some small, at 6s. 4 10 0
16 Letter-Boards,5 only 10 of ’em good-for-anything 0 15 0
3 Folio Gallies6 8 Quarto, and 7 small Do 1 10 0
1 Letter Rack and one Case Rack 1 0 0
1 Lye-Trough, 1 Lye Tub, and one Wetting Trough7 1 10 0
6 Composing-Sticks,8 one of which good-for-Nothing 1 10 0
2 Imposing Stones,9 with their Stands 3 10 0
1 Old Book-Press much shatter’d 1 0 0
16 Poles for drying Paper1 0 16 0
2 Mallets, 2 Shuting Sticks, a Plainer, and some old Furniture2 1 0 0
12 Cuts for Dilworth’s Spelling-Books 3 0 0
2 King’s Arms, 3 S’s for Bills of Lading 3 or 4 Head & Tail piecs 2 0 0
The Cuts for the Advertisements much worn 1 0 0
Some Brass pieces of Rules, and other Rules3 0 12 7
268 10 0
Three Printing Presses, One much shatter’d 45 0 0
£313 10 0

Errors excepted

Per James Parker.

Endorsed: Account and Valuation of D.H Old Printing Materials as taken Jan. 27. 1766.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7The type sizes mentioned in the first eleven entries approximate those in the present point system as follows: Brevier, 8 point; Burgeois, 9 point; long primer, 10 point; small pica, 11 point; pica, 12 point; English, 14 point; great primer, 18 point; double pica, 22 point; double English, 28 point. For purposes of comparison it may be stated that in the present edition indexes and most tabulations are set in 8-point type; editorial footnotes, such as this one, in 10-point; headnotes, original author’s footnotes, and occasionally other material in 11-point; texts of documents, except most tabular matter, in 12-point; and the headings of documents in 13½-point. On some of the matters touched on in this “Valuation” Daniel B. Updike, Printing Types Their History, Forms, and Use A Study in Survivals (Cambridge, Mass., 1922) is helpful. Since most of the type in the Franklin and Hall printing office in 1766 had come from the foundry of William Caslon, the specimens of Caslon types reproduced by Updike in his second volume, following pages 102, 104, 106, and 107, are pertinent to this “Valuation.” A useful introductory study of BF’s type, though dealing mostly with the earlier years, is C. William Miller, “Franklin’s Type: Its Study Past and Present,” APS Proc., xcix (1955), 418–32.

8Typographical ornaments originally in a floral design but, by extension of the term, in a variety of other designs as well.

9Black letter is usually now called “Old English” or “Gothic.”

1Spacing material of varying widths to be inserted between words in the type to space out the line enough to even it with other lines and so “justify” the right-hand margin of the printing.

2Shallow trays divided into compartments to hold type, usually set up in pairs, the upper case containing capitals, small capitals, and numerals, the lower case containing small letters and marks of punctuation. Other characters in the font are divided between the two cases according to a standard arrangement.

3Stands to support the type cases.

4Rectangular metal frames (now spelled “chases”) into which pages or columns of type are locked for printing.

5Boards for the storage of composed type.

6Galleys are long trays with upright sides to hold composed type. Since first proofs are usually pulled from type so held, these proofs are called “galley proofs.”

7After use, hand-set type is commonly cleaned in lye, then rinsed in water, before being distributed to the cases for future use.

8A composing stick is a tray, usually of metal, that the compositor holds in his left hand and in which he sets the type. Journeymen printers who may move from one employer to another often own personal composing sticks.

9Smooth flat stones on which pages of type are placed before being locked in the chase.

1After printing, each sheet of paper must be dried before storage.

2After the type has been placed in the chase, the blank spaces are filled with pieces of wood or metal, called furniture, of less height than the type. An instrument of wood or metal notched at one end, called a shooting stick, is then struck with a mallet to drive in quoins (wedges) to tighten the whole. At intervals during this process a smooth block of wood, called a planer, is laid on the type and tapped to level it in order that it may produce an even impression.

3Thin metal strips of the same height as the type, set on edge to print solid lines. They may be cut to the required length or set end to end when necessary.

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