French Benjamin Franklin Bronze, ca. 1870

Value (2013) | $4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction

You have a French bronze of Benjamin Franklin that you bought in England.

Yes, I did.

Tell me how you acquired it.

I went to an antique fair there, and the dealer had this. And because it's an American, I thought it should come back to America.

It's a great depiction of Benjamin Franklin. He's certainly known as a statesman. He's known for being involved in the Declaration of Independence and writing the Constitution of the United States, but one of his major roles in the 18th century was as a scientist. And here he's depicted seated next to this apparatus, which is an electrostatic generating machine. And of course, Franklin was very known for his experiments with electricity-- the famous kite in the storm with the key-- and he received worldwide recognition for that. And this device that he's shown with is his electrostatic generator, and it's very clearly modeled and shown. It actually has this disk which is rotated with these pads that sort of scrape off electrons. It's stored, and then when it's touched here, a spark is shown. So it's really quite an extraordinary device. It was very popular in the 18th century, and even into the 19th century, people would have these and they would do experiments. They might do parlor games and parlor tricks based on static electricity. The bronze is very nicely cast. It's highly detailed. Franklin is shown in this very luxurious garment on a wonderful Rococo-style throne. He was in France during the revolution. He was very, very popular. So again, it's interesting this bronze is from the mid-19th century, made in France, and they're celebrating him as a scientist rather than as a statesman. You bought it from a dealer. About what did you pay for it?

About £1,000.

Well, it's really a wonderful piece. It's very unusual. It would appeal to a whole range of collectors, and I think at auction, I would actually estimate it in the $4,000 to $6,000 price range.

Ah, very nice.


Yes. Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Lillian Nassau LLC
New York, NY
Value Update (2013)
$4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction
Appraised value (1999)
$4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction
Columbus, OH (August 14, 1999)
19th Century

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