Pennsylvania Society Subscription Books, ca. 1787
Appraised Value: $12,000 - $18,000 (1997)
$18,000 - $25,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 5
Appraisal Video: (2:05)
Books & Manuscripts
Books and Manuscripts Dept., Senior Vice President
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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