January 17 is the birthday of one of the most famous man in American History, Benjamin Franklin ( 17 January, 1706 – 17 April, 1790). I read Benjamin Franklin’s Biography by Walter Isaacson a few years ago and it is, to this day, a favorite of mine. Many people know that Mr. Franklin was a printer, but here are a few interesting facts about his printing career and love of books & libraries.
- Franklin considered himself a printer all his life, and took great pride at his occupation. Wherever he went he always had a printing press at his disposal. Franklin’s last will and testament begins “I, Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia, printer…”.
- To his life’s end, Ben Franklin remained a printer and took pride in it. Wherever he lived in Europe or America, he managed to have a printing press at his disposal. It is no accident that his last will and testament, written at age eighty-three (the year before he died) begins “I, Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia, printer…”.
- Franklin’s first publication was when he was 16 years old, he wrote in the voice of a feminist woman named “Silence Dogood”.
- At age 21, Franklin established the colonies’ first circulation library for all interested citizens or as it was known “The Library Company of Philadelphia”.
- The Pennsylvania Gazette, a newspaper, was bought by Franklin when he was 22 years old and printed the paper money for both Pennsylvania and Delaware.
- When he was elected clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly, Franklin used his printing company to print various documents for the Pennsylvania Assembly.
- Franklin was made postmaster of Philadelphia, which helped him circulate his newspaper.
- Franklin started the University of Pennsylvania in 1751 because he wanted to develop an Academy where the curriculum would focus on English composition and grammar.
- It is said that Franklin first used as many as 25 electrical terms including battery, brushed, charged, conductor, and even electrician.
- Ben Franklin invented The library stepstool and the mechanical arm for reaching books on high shelves, and let’s not forget that Franklin also invented the “writing chair”
Zohar – Man of la Book