Liberty Coin Service Buys Rare Document Printed by Benjamin Franklin
Mortgage was printed by 30-year-old Franklin, 283 years ago
A 283-year-old mortgage document printed by a 30-year-old Benjamin Franklin has found a home in Lansing.
Liberty Coin Service recently purchased the 1736 mortgage document for land in Mooreland, Pennsylvania Province at the International Money Show in Kansas City, Missouri. Visitors to the Liberty Coin store in Frandor Shopping Center can now view the piece of American history.
“This document has an amazing pedigree. At one time it was on display in the Franklin Museum in Philadelphia,” said Tom Coulson, Liberty Coin Service owner and CEO. “There is a notation on the back of the mortgage that the museum either added it to its holdings or discarded it in 1880. It later was acquired by the legendary coin collector Eric P. Newman.”
The previous owner of the document purchased the piece deed from an auction of Newman’s holdings.
“(The most recent owner) had done research in auction history to learn that the item was much scarcer than generally thought,” Coulson explained. “With his specialized research, he was able to acquire the item for well below his maximum bid. Then, when he brought the item to the Kansas City convention, he met Liberty Coins Communications Officer Patrick A. Heller, a decades-long friend of his, and negotiated a reasonable price to sell the attractive 283-year old piece of American history.”
Franklin entered the printing business at age 12 when he worked for his brother, who was an apprentice printer in Boston. Franklin ran away from Boston and entered the Philadelphia printing trade working for Samuel Keimer in 1723 and from 1727-1728, one of two printing companies in the city. In May 1728, Franklin and Hugh Meredith quit working for Keimer to establish their own printing business. From 1730 to 1748, Franklin was the sole owner of his printing company. He then took in David Hall as his junior partner from 1748 to 1766.
In 1730, Franklin won his first government contract to print the blank mortgage documents that the General Loan Office used in the 1730s. He later printed the paper money issues for the Province of Pennsylvania in 1731 and 1739 and was involved with later monetary issues.
The mortgage purchased by Liberty Coins was issued Sept. 9, 1736, to Peter Lycan of Mooreland, Pennsylvania in the amount of 139 pounds 10 shillings in British currency. The document has survived in exceptional condition for its age, Coulson noted, suffering typical toning and splits where the paper was folded and two tiny pieces along the edge of the paper that separated.
The document has been authenticated and certified as being in Choice Very Fine-30 condition by PCGS Currency. In researching this document, the previous owner checked multiple decades of auction records of the former auction house where he conducted research in historic documents and found that the company had never handled one of these Franklin-printed mortgages His conclusion was that this fiscal document is probably not the only surviving example, but it is likely one of only a handful of survivors.
Liberty Coin Service, founded in 1971, is Michigan’s largest rare coin and precious metals dealership. Liberty Coins has been located in Lansing’s Frandor Shopping Center since 1975. Over its time in business, the company has handled historical documents including items signed by John Hancock, King George III, Napoleon Bonaparte, Albert Einstein, Ransom E. Olds and other historical figures.
If you want to view the document, Liberty Coins is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.