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from Collections at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum

printing press
photo: A9830-24A

Benjamin Franklin's Printing Press

By James Kratsas, Deputy Director

In 1776, the most famous American of the time, Benjamin Franklin, set sail for Paris as the ambassador to France from the world's newest nation, the United States.  Two hundred years later for America's Bicentennial, the French president, Giscard d'Estaing, presented an 18th century printing press to President Ford as a tribute to our 200th birthday.  Purported to have been used by Franklin while stationed in Paris, the press was a tribute to the relationship between the two nations over the years from the services of Lafayette to Pershings's proclamation of "Lafayette, we are here" in 1917.

This press is among the oldest of any artifact in the Museum's collections and represents a time when our fledgling nation, while the youngest, was also the most literate in all the world.