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A Benjamin Franklin letter with an unusual history is up for sale — for $120,000

An authentic Benjamin Franklin letter could be yours for $120,000

Benjamin Franklin's letter
RAAB Collection / RAAB Collection

Whether you’re a history buff or a collector of rare artifacts, we have some news that might pique your interest. A letter penned by Benjamin Franklin himself is currently up for sale, and its story is as fascinating as the Founding Father who wrote it.

A rare glimpse behind the scenes of the American Revolution

Rare Benjamin Franklin Signed Letter from Paris, 1777, Securing Supplies for the Revolutionary War

The Raab Collection, a company that deals in historical documents, has listed a letter written by Benjamin Franklin in 1777. This important document will be on display for the first time at their Philadelphia office before going up for sale on April 11th. The asking price is $120,000.

While the letter itself is short, its historical significance is undeniable. It dates back to a pivotal moment in the American Revolution when Benjamin Franklin served as a diplomat in France. The American colonies were locked in a fierce struggle for independence from Great Britain, and France, while sympathetic to the American cause, remained hesitant to formally enter the war. Franklin’s mission was to convince the French government to become an ally, a critical step towards securing American victory.

It reads: “I do hereby certify whom it may concern, that the Papers herewith connected under my Seal, viz. the Extract from the Minutes of the Assembly of Georgia, signed by Henry Cuyler, Clerk; and the Instructions to Capt. De la Plaigne signed by N W. Jones Speaker, are genuine and authentic Papers. B Franklin.”

Dated December 3, 1777, this letter pre-dates the pivotal American victory at Saratoga by just a few days. Historians believe it may be linked to covert French support for the American cause even before this key turning point in the Revolution. The document hints at the effectiveness of Benjamin Franklin’s diplomatic efforts beyond face-to-face interactions, potentially laying the groundwork for the significant increase in French aid that followed the news of Saratoga.

The story behind this Benjamin Franklin letter goes beyond its historical significance

In The Hunt for History, Nathan Raab shares a story about the journey of Benjamin Franklin’s letter. After spending years in a private collection, The Raab Collection has reacquired the document.

Nearly 15 years ago, The Raab Collection received a Benjamin Franklin document related to the American Revolution. To verify its authenticity, they compared it to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s (HSP) collection, only to discover that the HSP had a near-identical copy.

After reviewing the minutes of the HSP’s board meetings, they found that the HSP had gifted the original document decades earlier to a dedicated supporter — the minutes also made it clear that this unusual arrangement would not set a precedent. This revelation confirmed the authenticity of The Raab Collection’s document and unveiled its fascinating past. The letter had journeyed through various collectors’ hands before finding its way back.

Now, The Raab Collection is privileged to find a new “great steward” — a responsible owner who will cherish this significant piece of history.

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Tabitha Britt
Tabitha Britt is a freelance writer, editor, SEO & content strategist.
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