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I browse the news feed of Franklin mentions daily, and almost stop because of the flurry of bogus quotes from Franklin. So convenient a thing it is to concoct a Franklin quote for anything one has a mind to say.
I happened across the @bfcircles Twitter group on my phone this morning, and on the view of their graphics, saw several pretty images of Franklin with sayings attributed to him that I have seen coming through other posts, also purporting to be Franklin’s words. These sayings are a little too modern, and are unfamiliar to me. I question that they are actually from Franklin. Searching the Papers Digital Edition would be an excellent step towards clarifying whether they are authentic.
For example, some quotes that strike me as bogus are:
- “By failing to plan, you are planning to fail.” I see this quoted a lot.
- “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” I see this quoted a lot.
- “The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” OMG, the Pursuit of Happiness is in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.
- “When you’re good to others, you’re best to yourself.”
- “A wise man will desire no more than what he may get justly, use soberly, distribute cheerfully, and leave contently.” Ouch – that last word is not even a word.
- “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning.”
I see a few that are good, and the graphics are generally excellent. I was starting to ease my mind, but then this blunders in:
- “Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes.”
I’d be surprised to find ANY of those major words in Franklin’s writings. This is not to disparage the circles themselves. The ideas expressed are generally agreeable to me. But like Franklin never said, “hey you kids, get off my lawn!”
I want to start collecting interesting resources on the preface to the final Poor Richard’s Almanack, also known as The Way to Wealth.
The Western Kentucky University’s Kentucky Museum reports having “a 1765 Chippendale tea table donated by a descendant of Benjamin Franklin … currently on exhibit” — perhaps shown in this album from the Snell-Franklin Decorative Arts Exhibition — in this story.
Three sets of the Printing Week Library of Benjamin Franklin Keepsakes have appeared in auctions recently. This is a sweet set of small books on Franklin, “Privately Printed in New York.”
* Oak Knoll Press publishes a list, replicated below with expansions, that suggests there were 28 produced in all. The first number seems to be their inventory count, the second number is my personal inventory count, where I have them. I am lacking the titles that are in bold. The asterisks indicate issues I may have a copy available.
- 1953 WAY TO WEALTH (1)(0)
1954. none issued. Keepsake took another form
1955: not listed
- * 1956 B. FRANKLIN, 1706-1790 (2)(2)
- 1957. BEN FRANKLIN, WIT (1)(0)
- 1958. ON TRUE HAPPINESS (1)(1)
- 1959. DON’T GIVE TOO MUCH FOR THE WHISTLE AND OTHER ESSAYS (3)(1)
- 1960 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, INVENTOR, (4)(0)
- * 1961. B. FRANKLIN, INNOVATOR (1)(2)
- 1962 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN WAS THERE (n.l.)(1)
- 1963. AMERICA’S BIG BEN (2)(1)
- 1964. WHAT GOOD IS A NEW BORN BABE? (1)(1)
- 1965. WHAT GOOD IS SERVING GOD? (2)(0)
- 1966. ARTICLES OF BELIEF (1)(1)
- 1967. AN APOLOGY FOR PRINTERS (1)(1)
- * 1968 THE SILENCE DOGOOD LETTERS (7)(2) Dedicated to Lews F. White, the designer of “twelve earlier editions” of this keepsake.
- 1969 THE SILENCE DOGOOD LETTERS II (4)(1)
- 1970. LE BON DOCTEUR FRANKLIN, THE TOAST OF PARIS (3)(1)
- 1971 FRANKLIN OF PHILADELPHIA IN LONDON (4, 1 with bookplate) (0)
- * 1972 A QUART OF OYSTERS AND OTHER BON MOTS (6)(2)
- * 1973 SHEEP WILL NEVER MAKE INSURRECTIONS (5)(2!)
- * 1974 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, PRINTER AT WORK (4)(2!)
- * 1975 ADMIRAL FRANKLIN? YES, ADMIRAL FRANKLIN (6)(3)
- 1976 “THE DREAM”, “BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S DREAM… (2)(1)
- 1977. MY DEAR GIRL (5)(1)
- 1978. MY DEAR GIRL II, “25TH KEEPSAKE”, perhaps including 1954. (4)(1)
- * 1979. FRANKLIN AND WOMEN (2)(2)
- 1980. HOW GEORGE WASHINGTON GOT HIS GUNPOWDER (3)(1)
- 1981. THE PRINTER AT WORK (sold out)(1)
- 1982 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, THE DIPLOMAT, by Vera Laska (6)(0)
- 1983 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, ANECDOTES AND EULOGIES (4)(0).
I would be happy to more about the organization producing these volumes.
My eye was caught by this statement in this news article today:
Dun & Bradstreet dates back to 1841 when Lewis Tappan – the great grand nephew of Benjamin Franklin – set-up a business to provide credit information across the US via a network of reporters, just five years after the first commercial telegraphs were introduced.
I don’t have the name Tappan in my Virtual Cemetery of Franklin Descendants, and would appreciate any information about his relationship.
The stained glass window inside my library window is a tribute to Franklin’s armonica.
Posted on Instagram.
The Washington Post has an interesting take on Franklin’s Apology for Printers.
The National Constitution Center has an excellent overview to coverage of the kite experiment: “The Great Debate About Benjamin Franklin’s Kite.”
Thanks to Thomas Kidd for this image, citation and an accompanying article.
I am slowly binge-watching episodes of West Wing and notice in Season 6, Episode 20, “In God We Trust” that Franklin shows up in the decorations of people in both parties. It’s a nice compliment that the set designers imagine both these classy characters would want Franklin’s image nearby.
Seated Statuette on the set of West Wing
The Senate office of Republican Senator Vinick of California (played by Alan Alda) features a seated Franklin.
Oval office bust of Franklin
Meanwhile, over in the White House, in the Oval Office of Democratic President Bartlet, we have a bust of Dr. Franklin. The bust, I believe, is by Jean-Jacques Caffieri. The University of Pennsylvania cites the 1777 bust as “Franklin’s preferred likeness of himself.”
I found the seated statuette on eBay (it got away from me) and am not otherwise familiar with it. Does anyone know more about it?
This is the first Bumping into Benjamin Franklin entry. I will be sharing the frequent experience of connecting to Franklin while not directly looking for him. Thanks for reading!