BENJAMIN FRANKLIN Document signed granting land in Philadelphia to Charles Biddle, 1787.
Philadelphia: 28 August 1787. Engraved document on vellum accomplished in manuscript and signed "B. Franklin" at foot, countersigned by James Trimble as secretary, and with a large wafer seal affixed by the original silk ribbon. The verso with a second wafer seal and docketting; Framed with an original plat map of the location, dated 26 July 1787. The vellum document 13 3/4 x 16 inches (35 x 40.5 cm); in a double-sided frame. Usual folds, Franklin's signature is dark but slightly smudged, the hanging seal creased, not removed from the frame, very well preserved overall.
Provenance: a manuscript note to the frame verso reads "Given to J. Dallas Wainwright from his Aunt Adele Biddle Thomas for his Collection, 1-2-32"; By descent in the family to the current consignor
From an act distributing the Philadelphia land in the estate of one Joseph Galloway, Charles Biddle is granted three lots at city center located at Cherry and Eighth Streets. Remarkably, this document is signed by Benjamin Franklin during the period of the Constitutional Convention and just a few weeks before the signing of the document. Franklin, 81 at the time and the oldest person to sign the Constitution, was known to be weak and in poor health evidenced by his shaky hand here (he was also the first signer of the Constitution to die, in 1790).
Charles Biddle, brother to Captain Nicholas, served in the Revolution in the Quaker Light Infantry and also on board the Randolph. At the time of this document, he was serving as Vice-President of Pennsylvania under Franklin and John Dickinson. In 1778, Charles Biddle married to Hannah Shepard and they had 10 children, including the banker Nicholas Biddle and Commodore James Biddle.
C The Christine Biddle Wainwright Collection
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