University Archives


Benjamin Franklin Signed Document, Gorgeously Presented

An extremely attractive Pennsylvania land grant signed by Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) as "B. Franklin Presidt" at upper left, just seven months into his first term as President of the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The bold and elegant signature measures 3" x 1.25" alone. Dated May 9, 1786. Countersigned by James Trimble (1755-1836), First Deputy Secretary, as "James Trimble / for J Armstrong / jur Sec:ry" at lower left. Partly handwritten and partly printed on vellum. An embossed star-shaped paper seal is found at upper left above Franklin's elegant signature. Light ink bleed-through indicates the document is docketed verso. Expected folds, scattered stains, and edge weathering. The paper seal is intact but has several folded points. Else very good to near fine. Displayed to the right of an engraved portrait of Franklin with corresponding name plate. Matted and archivally framed behind museum-quality UV ray filtering glass with document separators in a handsome rosewood finished frame. Not examined out of frame. Sight size: 15.5" x 12.5." Overall size: 34" x 22.5" x 1.25." Accompanied by a signed James Spence Authentication Letter of Authenticity dated March 9, 2018.

President Benjamin Franklin authorized the sale of just a little over 212 acres of land to a certain John Cornman for the sum of £2:13:1.

"The Supreme Executive Council of the Common Wealth of Pennsylvania

To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting. Know Ye, That in consideration of the Sum of Two Pounds thirteen Shillings and one penny lawful Money, paid by John Cornman into the Receiver-General's Office of this Commonwealth, there is granted, by the said Commonwealth, unto said John Cornman A Certain Tract of Land, Called 'Juliana's Borough' situate on the North West Side of Allegany [sic] River in the County of Westmoreland…"

The exact location of "Juliana's Borough" is uncertain, but it was situated in modern day Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania along the northwest side of the Allegheny River, early on its history sometimes also called the Upper Ohio River. Westmoreland County is located approximately 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The County appears to have a strong tradition of naming its municipalities after various boroughs (Avonmore Borough, Penn Borough, etc.), though none of these resemble "Juliana" or anything derivative. On the same day that John Cornman was granted ownership of "Juliana's Borough," he purchased another tract of exactly the same size known as "Goose Borough" in the same county.

The Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the state's executive body, convened between 1777-1790. Founding Father and aging statesman Benjamin Franklin served as its 6th President (essentially state governor) between mid-October 1785 and early November 1788. This land deed was signed seven months into Franklin's 3-year-long term, the longest held term of any such President. "President Franklin" later hosted the 1787 Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia.

An outstanding document featuring the large and clear signature of Philadelphia's adopted son Ben Franklin!

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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