Benjamin Franklin Papers

Observations on Mr. Parker’s State of the Account, [undated]

Observations on Mr. Parker’s State of the Account

AD: Haverford College Library

This undated document is placed here for convenience because it relates so closely to Parker’s final report on the accounts between Franklin and Hall, Feb. 1, 1766 (above, pp. 87–99), and his letter of February 3 about that report (immediately above). Franklin could hardly have received the report and letter before the middle of March 1766, but they had reached him by April 6, as he told Parker in a letter of that date, now lost, that Parker acknowledged on June 11 (below, p. 300). Franklin had probably prepared these “Observations” by May 19, when he wrote Hall a letter, also now lost, raising a few of the questions indicated here. Hall replied on Aug. 19, 1766, acknowledging that letter and answering some of the questions asked (below, pp. 380–1).

From time to time in later correspondence the former partners alluded to matters to be found in these “Observations,” and Hall asked for a copy of the entire document. Franklin promised to send it, but seems not to have done so at any time before Hall died the day before Christmas 1772. In fact, as indicated in the headnote to the account between Franklin and the Hall estate (above, p. 101), there seems to have been no final settlement of the account during the lifetime of any of the people directly concerned: James Parker, David Hall, and Franklin himself.

In considering these “Observations” reference should be had to the entry numbers added to the copy of the Parker account as printed above.


Observations on Mr. Parker’s State of the Account between B F. and D Hall. Referring to the Articles as Numbred with Red Ink

No. 1. Article 1. Query, May not this Article contain Sums paid on Accounts settled, as Receipts were given on such Settlements, and the Sums then paid ought not to be brought into this Account.
2. Mr. Parker writes that the Exchange was settled at a Medium Rate. But the real Rate of Exchange is the best to settle this Article at, Mr. Hall can easily find what he paid for the Bills he sent me. If not, the Price of Bills at the Time each Bill was sent, may easily be known from any Merchant’s Books. Mr. H. in his Letters frequently mention’d to me the Rate of Exchange.7
3. What is the meaning of Cash lent? When does the Account mention’d in this Article begin?
4. If the Almanacks sent to Rhodeisland are charg’d to me, which indeed I gave away as I us’d to do before the Partnership and never receiv’d any Pay for; then I ought to be allow’d for the Copy of the Almanacks which cost me Money, besides a good deal of Trouble of my own. And to which Copy I still have the Right.8
6. Is there Credit given for Noetica’s sold? Are there none remaining?
7. Examine Mr. Hunter’s Account to see if these were ever charg’d to him.
9. Let this be charg’d to Post Office Account £11 3s. 6d.
11. Enquire of Mr. Strahan about this Payment of £82 8s. 6d. sterl. to see if it was on Account of Sally’s Books.
12. Do. Copy these two Articles.
No. 2. 13. The Account of Paper should be taken from the Work book as mine was, and not from Papermakers Receipts.9
14. Lampblack is one of the Incidentals as well as Oil or Ink.1 As there is no Article for Oil, I suppose it comes under the next Head of
15. Incidentals. What do they consist of, that they amount to £584 1s.d. besides what is in the next Article
16. Ink, and English Papers. Quy. if the latter ought to be charg’d?
17. More Incidentals. What were they? £18 5s. 11d.
18. This Article like No. 13. should be made out from the Work Books, not from Receipts.
19. — [Added later in this space in different ink: Sent Mr. Hall
20. — 300 Post the second Journals.—and some of the first.2]
No. 3. 21. What Printing Work? Was it not such as was settled?
24. Receiv’d by B.F. was this Sum? or received by D.H. and paid by him to B F. on Gazette Account? £448 10s. 3d.
25. Has Ramsey paid the rest?
Gen. Acct. 26.
Page. No. 1. 29. } Was not the Old Body of Votes printed before 1756?3 How is that Work settled? Are there not a great Number unsold?
32. This Article should extend to Jan. 26. 1766. See below Art. 45.
33. } The Sum of these two Articles seems very low. Is there no Mistake? Is there not some great Omission. The single Advertisements, Blanks, and other Jobbs, are chiefly ready Pay, and do not by this Account amount to more than £27 per Ann.
36. This Article ends Aug. 22. 1765, should be extended to Jan. 26. 66.4
41. Almanacks
42. Primers
43. Blanks, Query, how were they valued, how much per Quire?
44. Gazette
45. Advts.
46. On what Account is this Money received?5
47. What Books and Pamphlets?
Primmers. Quy. the Paper. } Are these reckond Paper and all.
Cats. Quy. Paper.
51. Has not Dilworth been printed several times before?6
Was the Sale of the Body of Laws all Accounted for?7 } left
Quy. Testaments and Pamelas.8
55. See Article 18. near £500’s worth of Paper per Ann.
58. Quy. the meaning of this Article? Moore’s Alm[anac]s.9 If sold for B.F. are they accounted for?
No. 2 [bracketed together with single comment:] 59 60 61 62 63 65 66 67 Examine these Articles. They make the whole Quantity of Paper us’d in 8 Years, while I found it, to amount only to £1385 3s. 4d. which is but £173 per ann. See Article 55.
[Added comment on 63:] I think Pocket Almanacks used to be done on fine Post.1 Quy.
No. 3. Art. 68. Does this Account include Pensa. Law Books and Newcastle with Testaments, Pamelas, Common Prayers, &c.2
69. Query the Nature of this Article, and on what Occasion.
70. Was Damages receiv’d.
72. Flowrs cost 5s. Sterl. per lb. Book Press, the Screw worth much more. Chaces too low. Several other Articles Ditto. particularly Presses.
Gen. Acct. 73
Gen. Observations3
No Valuation of my Copy Right to Poor Richard’s Almanack Book and Pocket.
No Valuation of my Copy Right to the establish’d Gazette.
No Computation of the outstanding Debts, or Offer made for them.

[Added in different ink:] No Account of the Sale of 500 Reviews of the Constitution of Pensilvania, an 8vo of 5s. Sterl. sent. to Mr. Hall for Sale in July 1759.4

Endorsed: B. Franklin’s Remarks on the Account settled by Mr. Parker. between Franklin & Hall

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7In his letter of explanation (immediately above) Parker told BF that he and Hall had taken the exchange rate for Hall’s remittances to England at £170 Pa. currency for £100 sterling “as a Medium.” Examination of Hall’s letters accompanying these remittances (printed in vols. vii–x, above) shows that he mentioned the exchange rate for about two-thirds of the bills he sent. The average rate for the bills so described is just over £161 Pa. currency per £100 sterling involved. Probably, therefore, BF had been somewhat overcharged in the account.

8This entry in the report covered Poor Richard Almanacks and Pocket Almanacks for the years 1752 through 1761. BF had prepared printer’s copy for the first seven issues of Poor Richard, Hall for the last three. Almost certainly BF had paid some mathematically inclined person (such as Thomas Godfrey during earlier years) to prepare the astronomical and other data for these almanacs by use of one of the available printed Ephemerides that gave calculations for several years ahead; these tables could be converted mathematically for application to a particular locality. Here and in the general observations at the end of this paper BF showed his belief that the basic rights in the almanacs belonged to him, not to the partnership.

9In his explanatory letter Parker said that Hall “had no other Rule to ascertain” the value of the paper BF had supplied (shown in the report as “B-2”) than by the work books, though in the account of paper supplied by Hall (“A-2”) they had used the papermakers’ receipts and vouchers. BF appears to have preferred use of the work books in both instances.

1The partnership agreement had provided that “all Charges for Paper, Ink, Balls, Tympans, Wool, Oil, and other Things necessary to Printing, together with the Charge of all common and necessary Repairs of the Press and its Appurtenances” should be shared equally by the partners. BF was displeased at the somewhat unsystematic way in which these expenses were shown in entries 14–17 in the report.

2This comment is entered in the space made available by the absence of comment on entries 19 and 20 and has no relevance to them. BF was referring to the two journals by Christian Frederick Post on his mission to the Ohio Indians in 1758, the first of which Strahan printed for BF as an appendix to Charles Thomson’s Enquiry in 1759 and the second of which he printed separately in the same year. BF sent 225 copies of the first work to Hall and 300 of the second; above, VIII, 199–200, 298 n, 322, 453.

3BF probably had in mind Votes and Procedures of the House of Representatives of Pennsylvania, Beginning the Fourth Day of December, 1682. Volume the First. In Two Parts. Franklin and Hall, 1752 (Evans, 6908; Hildeburn, 1284; Campbell, 499); [Ibid.] Beginning the Fourteenth Day of October, 1707. Volume The Second. Franklin & Hall, 1753 (Evans, 7087; Hildeburn, 1333; Campbell, 515); [Ibid.] Beginning the Fourteenth Day of October, 1726. Volume The Third. Franklin and Hall, 1754 (Evans, 7286; Hildeburn, 1387; Campbell, 530); and possibly Laws of the Government of New-Castle, Kent and Sussex, Upon Delaware. Published by Order of the Assembly. Franklin and Hall, 1752 (Evans, 6835; Hildeburn, 1252; Campbell, 486).

4As explained above, p. 96 n, additions carrying entries 35 and 36 down to Jan. 17, 1766, appear in Parker’s report as entry 46, but without being fully identified there.

5See the note immediately above.

6BF had published what appears to have been the first American edition of Thomas Dilworth’s New Guide to the English Tongue in 1747 (Evans, 1783 note), and five later editions by other printers are listed, but no others by BF, Franklin and Hall, or Hall alone are listed until the unfinished edition of 1766 cited in entry 51 of Parker’s report.

7A Collection of All the Laws Of the Province of Pennsylvania: Now in Force. Published by Order of Assembly (Phila., B. Franklin, 1742).

8The mention here of “Testaments” may possibly be a reference to BF’s 1744 printing of The New-England Psalter; or Psalms of David, with which were included the Proverbs of Solomon and the Sermon on the Mount (Evans, 5334; Hildeburn 888; Campbell, 300). None of the standard bibliographies list any English-language Testaments printed in the colonies before 1777, yet the list of books BF turned over to Hall in 1748 includes “15 Testaments Philadelphia Printing,” valued at 1s. 6d. each. The same list includes 44 copies of Pamela, undoubtedly a reference to BF’s 1744 edition of Samuel Richardson’s Pamela; or Virtue Rewarded. Whatever “Testaments” BF may have had in mind, therefore, they were probably accounted for, as were the Pamelas, as part of the books for which Parker’s report gave credit to BF in entry 68.

9The editors are unable to clarify the uncertainty here.

1Post paper, a sheet measuring 16 by 20 inches, is so called because it was originally watermarked with a postman’s horn.

2The two surviving pages of the list of books BF turned over to Hall in 1748 include Testaments and Pamelas, as indicated in a previous note, but do not include compilations of Pennsylvania or Delaware laws or the Votes and Proceedings. These may have appeared on pages of the list that have been lost.

3The final figures in Parker’s report may have come as something of a shock to BF, indicating as they did that he owed Hall almost £1000. As these “General Observations” and some later correspondence show, BF believed that he had unlisted offsetting claims of substantial value. He had what he called his “Copy Right” to the almanacs and the Gazette, publishing properties of importance that he had brought to the partnership and on which the income was to be evenly divided between Hall and himself during the continuance of the firm. If, as it appears, both men understood that Hall was to continue to publish the almanacs and newspaper under his own name in the future, BF felt that a “Valuation” should be put down to his credit in the account for the rights he would be surrendering to Hall, otherwise that some entry should be included to show his entitlement to a share in future income from these publications. The outstanding debts due to the firm, he felt, should also be shown, since he was entitled to one half of all that should later be paid, or else Hall should make some “Offer” for them if he was to keep all he might be able to collect. As the account with Hall’s estate (above, pp. 99–104) shows, Hall did credit half the income of the Gazette and half the debts he collected during his lifetime to the reduction of his claim against BF, but he never credited his former partner with any income from Poor Richard or the Pocket Almanack in later years. What similar credit, if any, Hall’s sons may ultimately have been willing to allow BF remains unknown.

4Richard Jackson’s An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pensylvania, of which BF sent Hall 500 copies for local sale, but which Hall reported were selling very poorly; above, VIII, 292 n, 360–2, 402–3, 448.

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