Benjamin Franklin Papers

Accounts with William Bradford, Jr., 1741–55

Accounts with William Bradford, Jr., 1741–553

MS: American Philosophical Society; MS Account Book: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Franklin’s business relations with other printers are suggested by a bill he submitted to the younger William Bradford and by Bradford’s account with him.4 Franklin’s bill covers the period from October 27, 1741, when he lent Bradford £1 10s., to September 22, 1747, when the bill he submitted amounted to £70 17s. 10d. Most of Bradford’s purchases were of paper, lampblack, pasteboard, and other printing supplies. Fewer than a dozen other charges are recorded—an occasional spelling book, two dozen Pocket Almanacks for 1747, Bradford’s advertisement “of his Setting up,” July 8, 1742,5 and “for advertising Colledge in N Jersey,” August 13, 1747, a charge of one pound because the advertisement was a long one. On the back of the bill are the words: “This Acct has been delivered in but was never settled. BF. Apr. 2. 1757.”

Bradford’s account book records his side of this business. From June 12, 1742, when Franklin was charged £2 15s. for “1 peice of Calico,” to October 3, 1755, when he bought a copy of Isaac Watts’s Reliquae Juveniles: Miscellaneous Thoughts in Prose and Verse and a copy of The Young Lady Conducted through Life, Franklin’s purchases from Bradford came to £74 6s. 9d., plus charges for each year of Bradford’s newspaper. With the exception of the calico, rare purchases of paper, and “2 Mizetinto Pictures,” Franklin bought only books—spellers, grammars, Latin classics, and standard devotional literature, and a few dozen of the almanacs Bradford printed: his purchase of 26 dozen of Taylor’s almanac and two dozen of Birkett’s for 1745 was unusually large. Only a few titles are worth noting: Lord Anson’s Voyage round the World; Wollaston’s Religion of Nature Delineated, The Grub-Street Journal, John Freind’s Chymical Lectures, and Don Quixote. Bradford has not indicated when or whether Franklin settled the account.6

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3William Bradford (1722–1791), grandson of the printer William Bradford of New York and Philadelphia who sent BF to Keimer; nephew and partner, 1739–40, of Andrew Bradford in Philadelphia. In July 1742, young William opened his own printing office (see below, p. 361), and in December, a few days after his uncle’s death, established the Pennsylvania Journal. Both men called their shops “At the Sign of the Bible.” William published the American Magazine and Monthly Chronicle, 1757–58, and the American Magazine, or General Repository, 1769; and was appointed King’s Printer for New Jersey, 1749. He opened the London Coffee-House in Philadelphia, 1754, and an office for marine insurance, 1762. He was a lieutenant in the volunteer company of Associators, 1748. Strongly opposed to the Stamp Act, he attacked BF for acquiescing in it; as an active participant in the revolutionary movement, Bradford served as colonel of Pennsylvania militia and chairman of the Pennsylvania Navy Board. DAB; Thomas, Printing, I, 241–4; John W. Wallace, An Old Philadelphian, Colonel William Bradford (Phila., 1884).

4The accounts are printed respectively in George S. Eddy, ed., Account Books Kept by Benjamin Franklin. Ledger “D,” 1739–1747 (N.Y., 1929), pp. 45–7, and Wallace, An Old Philadelphian, where the charge for BF’s subscription to the Pennsylvania Journal, 1742–66, is included.

5See below, p. 361, for this advertisement.

6Bradford’s account includes a charge of five shillings against William Franklin, July 30, 1755, for “3 Jersey Law Books.” Wallace has incorrectly included this in his printing of BF’s account.

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