Benjamin Franklin Papers

Franklin’s List of New Year’s Gifts and Gratuities, 29[-31] December 1778

Franklin’s List of New Year’s Gifts and Gratuities6

D: University of Pennsylvania Library

29[-31]th. Decr. 1778. Livs
Two embroider’d Work Bag’s 18
Work Bag, with small Box &ca 21
2 small Ivory Cases with silver Pens 8
2 small Busts7 of Dr. Franklin 12. l.t.
2 Horn Boxes 40.
1 Set of Tea things & Tea board 72.
Small spinning Wheel 60
Almanach’s 3. .14. 31st
2 Medallions of Dr F. 24. .—
2 small Busts of Do.8 12.
To the Commissr. from the Manure.—[Manufacture] 1. 4.
Fiacre 3. .6
To Mr Brillons Servants.— 48
(Total 13 Louis 11 Livs. 4 sls). £323. .4

Notation: Dec. 29 1778.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6Some of these presents seem destined to young girls, perhaps the Brillon daughters, Cunégonde and Aldegonde, and the Le Veillard daughter, Geneviève. The “Small spinning Wheel” is reminiscent of BF’s gift to his sister Jane some fifty-two years previously, when he advised her that “the character of a good housewife was far preferable to that of being only a pretty gentlewoman”: see I, 100. The list is in WTF’s hand.

7Here, and below, WTF first wrote “bursts” and then corrected it.

8These may have been the Sèvres porcelain medallions, which were also known to contemporaries as “busts.” The account books of the manufacture of Sèvres reveal that their price was 6 l.t. apiece. Ten of them were sold on Sept. 30, 1778, and eighteen on Feb. 10, 1779: Archives nationales, microfilm 54AQ, 35Mi, fol. 36; 35Mi5, fol. 93. See also Charles C. Sellers, Benjamin Franklin in Portraiture (New Haven and London, 1962), pp. 108, 135, 365–7.

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