Museum of Newport History

Museum of Newport History: 127 Thames St, Newport, RI 02840.

Website (October 14, 2011): “About 1717, James Franklin of Boston, Benjamin Franklin’s older brother, began printing on a press he imported from London. By 1727 he had moved to Newport and established a printing and publishing business that would endure for centuries. … The old press was retired by 1851 and acquired by the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association and placed on display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. In 1993 it was loaned to the Newport Historical Society for the Museum of Newport History at the Brick Market, where it can be seen today.”

Gaskell (1970, page 26, USA3) located this press in Providence (RI) in the Rhode Island Historical Society. He notes: “On loan from the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association of Boston, Mass. Believed to have been brought to America from London in 1717 by Benjamin Franklin’s brother James Franklin.”

In his 1956 thesis, Gaskell writes: “The machine bears the following inscription: ‘At this press BENJAMIN FRANKLIN worked as an Apprentice to his brother James, who brought it from London in 1717 and printed the NEW ENGLAND COURANT on it. In 1727 James Franklin took the press to Newport, R.I., where it remained until 1859, when it became the property of JOHN B. MURRAY, ESQ. of New York, who on the 18th of January 1864, in Commemoration of Franklin’s birthday (the 17th occurring on Sunday), presented it through the Hon. ROBERT C. WINTHROP to the MASSACHUSETTS CHARITABLE MECHANIC ASSOCIATION. See the Saturday Evening Gazette of the 16th January 1864.’ [Note: Sometime after 1956, the inscription was removed. The bar was attached downwards.

Harris & Sisson in ‘The Common press’ (1987) state on page 20 that ‘… and the Franklin press, owned by the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association, Boston, Massachusetts, and now in the Boston Museum of Science.’ [Note: the location changed in 1993].