Bits and Pieces
Exhibit Showcases Franklin's Prowess
Let Ben Franklin serve as a lesson to all printers who gripe and moan about commodity pricing, razor-thin profit margins and the cost of obtaining equipment that enables them to remain competitive. Franklin, one of our nation's founding fathers—not to mention a statesman, author, scientist and inventor, among other things—was also commercial printing's founding father.
When you consider that Franklin revolutionized the concept of home mail delivery, it's also clear that he dabbled in direct mail.
So, on the occasion of his 300th birthday, it only seems appropriate to take a closer look at the man, solely from his contributions to printing. And a wonderful educational opportunity reared its head with the world premiere exhibition, "Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World," being held in Printing Impressions' home town of Philadelphia.
For starters, Franklin made an "ample fortune" out of printing, and was able to retire to a life of leisure by the age of 42. Please note that getting away from day-to-day operations in favor of an early retirement leads to peculiar activity, such as flying kites during violent thunderstorms and leading the overthrow of your government. Guess Ben didn't own a set of golf clubs.
One display at the exhibition noted that Franklin's first line of work was as an apprentice in a chandler's shop but, in the end, it wouldn't hold a candle to the printed word, which he so loved.
As a child, he absorbed works such as John Bunyan's "Pilgrim Progress," Plutarch's "Lives" and Anthony Collins' "A Philosophical Inquiry Concerning Human Liberty." So it was only appropriate that he would become a printing apprentice to his brother, James, whose New-England Courant was the second newspaper in the colonies.
It was during those early years with his brother that Franklin began to showcase his subversive side. He would write letters to the Courant, using pen names like Silence Dogood, Busty Body, Dr. Fatsides and Historicus, to "poke fun at the pretentious elite and the follies of everyday life."