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  • The Roadshow Archive

    Pennsylvania Society Subscription Books, ca. 1787

    Appraised Value:

    $12,000 - $18,000 (1997)

    Updated Value:

    $18,000 - $25,000 (2012)

    Appraised on: September 6, 1997

    Appraised in: Secaucus, New Jersey

    Appraised by: Selby Kiffer

    Category: Books & Manuscripts

    Episode Info: Secaucus (#1623)
    Secaucus (#202)

    Originally Aired: January 26, 1998

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 5 Next 

    More Like This:

    Form: Book
    Material: Paper
    Period / Style: 18th Century
    Value Range: $12,000 - $18,000 (1997)
    Updated Value: $18,000 - $25,000 (2012)

    Related Links:

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    Comment

    Appraisal Video: (2:05)

    appraiser

    Appraised By:

    Selby Kiffer
    Books & Manuscripts
    Books and Manuscripts Dept., Senior Vice President
    Sotheby's

    Appraisal Transcript:


    GUEST: Well, they're a set of ledgers that were actually used to sell shares in a company that Benjamin Franklin formed.

    APPRAISER: Ledgers-- I think maybe I would almost call them subscription books. The company was the Pennsylvania Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures in Useful Arts, and people who wanted to become a member of that or support it could sign here and pledge a certain amount of money. Do you know anything about the society? I'm familiar with many things Franklin founded in Pennsylvania, all of which are still active. This one seems not to have been quite as successful.

    GUEST: The Philadelphia Historical Society has all the records of this company.

    APPRAISER: So it had a strong founding but did not last.

    GUEST: Yeah, the authentication came from the historical society that they're real.

    APPRAISER: This first ledger, actually sort of the index or key to the remaining ones that you have, where each ward is indicated by a volume number. The middle ward is volume four, and that's particularly interesting, I think, and I'm sure you do as well, because of the people who signed this. And the first signature-- someone who's pledged five shares for a total of £50-- is Benjamin Franklin himself, the wonderful bold signature, with Robert Morris, who was another Pennsylvania signer of the Declaration; Thomas Mifflin, who was a governor of Pennsylvania, signed it as well, and many other prominent Philadelphians and signers of the Declaration. You've done some historical research on them, Leonard. Have you ever had them appraised? Do you have a sense of value?

    GUEST: We do not.

    APPRAISER: They really combine, in my mind, historical importance and commercial value, and I wouldn't hesitate to estimate that they would sell for between $12,000 and $18,000.

    GUEST: Thank you.

    APPRAISER: You're welcome.




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