Independence NHP Receives Franklin Family Bible

Franklin bible title page
Franklin Bible Title Page


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News Release Date: February 24, 2015

Contact: Jane Cowley, 215-597-0060

Philadelphia Independence National Historical Park is the grateful recipient of another generous gift from Clare Duane Ellis and Wiley Ellis of South Carolina. The Franklin Family Bible, printed in 1763, has been on display in the Benjamin Franklin Museum since the museum opened in 2013. Thanks to the support of the Ellis family, the Bible, which was on a short term loan, will now be on long term display in the museum.

"We are grateful for the generosity of the Ellises," said Independence National Historical Park Superintendent Cynthia MacLeod, "these gifts are just one more way that Independence National Historical Park benefits from having such an engaged constituency of visitors, neighbors and friends who support the National Park Service."

Benjamin Franklin purchased the Bible while in London. Franklin's records include a notation, "cash paid for Baskerville Bible" at the cost of ten pounds. He gave the Bible as a gift before marriage to his daughter, Sarah Franklin, who in turn gave it to her daughter, Deborah Franklin Bache. The Bible has been passed on to the present owner by descent. Franklin likely purchased the Bible as a work of art as it is the second master work ever printed with the typeface invented by John Baskerville in 1757. A printer, Franklin collected well-printed works in a variety of typefaces.

This generous gift is one more in a number of donations to the park from the Ellis family. Previous gifts include a profile portrait of William Duane and a Memorandum from the Committee of Secret Correspondence, a committee formed by the Second Continental Congress and active from 1775 to 1777 that later became the Committee for Foreign Affairs.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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