Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from James Woodmason, 1 November 1780

From James Woodmason

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Novemr. 1 1780


Your esteem’d favour of the 26 Sept: came duly to hand covering a Bill for 25 £. conformable to your Order I shipped 3 Copying Machines with Paper & Ink Powder. I doubt not but you will find the Machines much approved off. The Patentees have found that their Ink Powder will not entirely dissolve the best way of making Ink from it is to mix the Powder with proper quantity of Water in an open Vessel & to let it stand for 48 hours, & then pour it off. I find that the Patentees have also improved their Paper, but I have none of it yet.

I have the pleasure to acquaint you that I have receivd an Order for the finest Royal for the Large 4to: Edit of Voltaire. & I understand that they have not finally determined on what Paper to have for the other 4to: Edition. I must beg you to accept of my warmest thanks for your friendly recommendation.5 I am Sir Your most Obedt. hble Servt

James Woodmason

P.S. Freight cou’d not be paid in London, the Captain not knowing the Exchange

Bot of James Watt & Co.
3 Patent Copying Machines @£6/6s. £18. 18. 0
3 Sett of Case’s for do 6s. 18
3 Ream’s Extra la thin
Copying Post 18s. 2. 14. 0
1 dozen Copyg Ink Powder 9. 0
Packing Case to Contain the whole 15. 0
Entry Shipping Expences &c 1. 0. 0
£24. 14. 0

Address’d to Mr. Francis Bowen Mercht Ostend

Benjn. Franklin Esqr.

Addressed: Dr: Franklin / a Passey near / Paris

Notations: Woodmason. Nov. 1. 1780. / Ansd May 81

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Woodmason had traveled to Paris with samples of fine wove paper in June, 1779, hoping to secure an order from Beaumarchais for the playwright’s projected publication in Kehl of Voltaire’s writings: XXX, 609–10. Over the course of the project’s troubled history, Beaumarchais’ plans for editions of various dimensions and quality changed several times. The prospectus of January, 1781, advertised an octavo edition and two limited quarto editions, one of which would be a deluxe publication on royal stock (presumably this paper from Woodmason). Eventually, both quarto editions were abandoned; when volumes finally began to appear nearly four years after the prospectus, they were available in either octavo or duodecimo. A portion of Woodmason’s paper may have gone into the select “English paper” edition of Beaumarchais’ Mariage de Figaro, issued from the Kehl presses during this period: Giles Barber, “The Financial History of the Kehl Voltaire,” in The Age of Enlightenment: Studies presented to Theodore Besterman, W. H. Barber, et al., eds. (Edinburgh and London, 1967), pp. 155–60, 162; see also the references cited in XXX, 609n.

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