Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from James Woodmason, 8 October 1781

From James Woodmason4

Printed document, signed:5 American Philosophical Society

Leadenhall-Street, 8 Octr 1781


As you have bought one of the Patent Copying Machines, I beg leave to acquaint you, that the Proprietors have invented a Method of keeping the Copying Paper ready damped for Use, by laying the Paper in a Box, which Method I think answers the Purpose.—The Price of a Folio and Quarto Box is 15s.6

If you are desirous of having a Pair, or are in want of any prepared Copying Paper, or Copying Ink, please to acquaint me, and I will send you either. I am, Sir your hble Servt

James Woodmason

Addressed: Dr. Franklen / Paris

Notation: Woodmason.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4The London stationer who was now the chief distributor of James Watt’s copy presses: XXXIII, 116.

5This form letter left blank spaces for the salutation, date, and complimentary close. Woodmason filled these in, and wrote the address.

6The damping box, as described in Watt’s instruction booklet (the “Blue Book”: XXXIV, 385n), was nothing more than a waterproof box that would hold 24 sheets of copying paper. The user would pour over the sheets three quarters of an ounce of pure spring water (which would not “contract any unpleasant smell”) and close the lid. The paper would stay moist for a period of two weeks; one had to use caution in lifting the tissue sheets out of the box, as they had a tendency to crumple and stick. We have no record of BF ordering this accessory. In fact, the last order to Woodmason that we have found is dated Oct. 5; see our headnote to “My Ink with a Little Loaf Sugar,” July 11, above.

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