Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to William Strahan, 27 October 1753

To William Strahan

ALS: Yale University Library

Philada. Oct. 27 1753

Dear Sir,

I have your Favour of June 27,2 and am quite surpriz’d at the Conduct of Mr. Harris. He is return’d to Maryland as I hear, a Parson!3

I have now received Bower’s 2d Vol. and shall send to the Trenton Library to enquire after Crito and Delaresse.4

The Sum was £25 to which I limited the Books, &c. to be sent my Nephew Benja. Mecom.5 But if you have sent to the Amount of £30, ’tis not amiss.

I am now about to establish a small Printing Office in favour of another Nephew,6 at Newhaven in the Colony of Connecticut in New England; a considerable Town in which there is an University, and a Prospect that a Bookseller’s Shop with a Printing House may do pretty well. I would therefore request you to bespeak for me of Mr. Caslon,7 viz.

300 lb Long primmer, with Figures and Signs sufficient for an
Almanack } Rom. and Italic
300 lb Pica
300 lb English
100 lb Great Primer
60 lb Double Pica
50 lb Two line English
40 lb Two line Great Primer
30 lb Two line Capitals, and Flowers of different Founts
20 lb Quotations

As Mr. Caslon has different Longprimmers, Pica’s, &c. I beg the Favour of your Judgment to chuse and order the best.

To which add,

  • A compleat good new Press
  • 2 pair Blankets
  • 2 pair Ballstocks
  • Some Riglets, Gutter Sticks, Side Sticks, Quoins, &c.
  • 3 pair Chases of different Sizes, the biggest Demi
  • 2 folio Galleys, each with 4 Slices
  • 4 Quarto Galleys
  • A few Facs, Head and Tail pieces, 3 or 4 of each
  • 2 Doz brass Rule
  • 2 good Composing Sticks
  • 2 Cags of Ink, one weak the other strong

With such another small Cargo of Books and Stationary as I desired you to send to Antigua, for a Beginning.

Mesnard sails in a Week or two, by whom I shall send you Bills for £100 Sterling. But desire you would immediately on receipt of this bespeak the Letter, &c. that we may not be disappointed of having them per first Ship to Newhaven or New York in the Spring. If sent to Newhaven, direct them to the Care of Mr. Thomas Darling, Merchant there. If no Vessel to Newhaven, then to New York, to the Care of Mr. Parker, Printer.

Insure the whole.

The Furniture may be pack’d in the large Case that contains the Press.

If you can persuade your Pressmaker to go out of his old Road a little, I would have the Ribs made not with the Face rounding outwards, as usual, but a little hollow or rounding inwards from end to end: And the Cramps made of hard cast Brass, fix’d not across the Ribs, but longways so as to slide in the hollow Face of the Ribs. The Reason is, that Brass and Iron work better together than Iron and Iron; Such a Press never gravels; the hollow Face of the Ribs keeps the Oil better, and the Cramps bearing on a larger Surface do not wear as in the common Method. Of this I have had many Years Experience.

I need not desire you to agree with the Workmen on the most reasonable Terms you can; and as this Affair will give you Trouble, pray charge Commissions. I shall not think my self a Whit the less oblig’d.

My Compliments to Mrs. Strahan, Master Billy, &c. in which my Wife and Children join with Dear Sir, Your most humble Servant

B Franklin

Addressed: To  Mr William Strahan  Printer  London  via Bristol

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2Not found.

3On Matthias Harris, see above, IV, 338 n.

4See above, IV, 213 n, 487.

5On Benjamin Mecom, whom BF set up as a printer in Antigua, see above, IV, 355 n.

6This nephew was James Franklin, Jr. (C.11.4; see above, II, 261). He decided, however, to remain at Newport, R.I., and the New Haven printing office was eventually opened by James Parker. See below, p. 110.

7William Caslon the younger (1720–1778), became the partner of his father, William Caslon the elder (1692–1766), the distinguished type founder and designer, in 1742, and upon the older man’s retirement in 1750 took over the management of the type foundry in London. DNB.

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