The Only Postal Appointment Signed by Benjamin Franklin as Postmaster General of the Colonies We Have Ever Seen

Franklin, under the authority of King George III, appoints a Postmaster for Trenton, N.J.

Purchase $45,000

A great rarity, as a search of public sale records over the past forty years shows that not even one other reached the marketplace

In 1728, at age 22, young Franklin set up shop in Philadelphia as a printer. The next year he became sole owner and publisher of the Pennsylvania Gazette....

Read More

The Only Postal Appointment Signed by Benjamin Franklin as Postmaster General of the Colonies We Have Ever Seen

Franklin, under the authority of King George III, appoints a Postmaster for Trenton, N.J.

A great rarity, as a search of public sale records over the past forty years shows that not even one other reached the marketplace

In 1728, at age 22, young Franklin set up shop in Philadelphia as a printer. The next year he became sole owner and publisher of the Pennsylvania Gazette. He was quickly successful in his adopted city and was appointed clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1736. Then, in 1737, he received his first important post – he was appointed postmaster of Philadelphia by the British Crown Post, at a time when Philadelphia was the largest city in the colonies. Newspaper publishers often served as postmasters, which helped them to gather and distribute news. Postmasters decided which newspapers could travel free in the mail – or in the mail at all. This position would give his career a boost and he would soon be known throughout America and England for his innovations and talents. Franklin first managed to stop the money loss on unclaimed mail in Philadelphia by printing in his paper the names of persons who had mail awaiting them. Postmaster General Elliott Benger added to Franklin’s duties by making him comptroller, with financial oversight for nearby Post Offices. Franklin developed a simple, accurate way of keeping post-office accounts, improving efficiency and profitability.

Franklin was so successful in this post that he was named Joint Postmaster General of the Colonies on August 10, 1753. Under Franklin, postal routes were surveyed, milestones were placed on the main roads, and better, more direct routes were set up between the colonies. He also had riders carry mail both night and day. Specifically, he first established faster postal service between Philadelphia and New York by having the weekly mail wagon travel at night as well as during the day, then saw these efforts cut the length of time for mail service between major cities in the colonies in half. Franklin encouraged postmasters to establish the penny post where letters not called for at the Post Office were delivered for a penny. Remembering his experience with the Gazette, Franklin mandated delivery of all newspapers for a small fee. His efforts contributed to the Crown’s first North American profit in 1760. Franklin left a legacy of postal roads stretching from Maine to Georgia, regular mail service between the colonies and England, and a system for regulating and auditing post offices.

In 1757, while serving as joint postmaster general, Franklin went to London to represent Pennsylvania’s government. In 1763, back in the colonies, he traveled 1,600 miles surveying post roads and Post Offices from Virginia to New England. In 1764, Franklin returned to London, where he represented the interests of several colonial governments. In 1774, judged too sympathetic to the colonies, he was dismissed as joint postmaster general. Then, in 1775, Franklin was appointed by the Continental Congress as its first Postmaster General, a position he served in until late in 1776 when he was called upon to serve his country as representative in Paris.

Part-printed Postmaster’s Commission signed, January 10, 1764, in the name of “BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, and JOHN FOXCROFT, Esquires, Post-Masters-General of all His Majesty’s Provinces and Dominions on the Continent of NORTH AMERICA”, appointing Abraham Hunt of Trenton, N.J. to the position of deputy postmaster “of Trenton in New Jersey.” It affirms the appointee’s “good Testimony of the Fidelity, and Loyalty to His Majesty”, and refers to “the fourth year of HIS MAJESTY’s Reign”. The document is signed by both Franklin and Foxcroft, and the red wax seal at upper left remains.

This postal appointment signed by Franklin as Postmaster General of the Colonies is an extremely rare document. A search of public sale records over the past forty years shows that not even one reached that marketplace. In fact, this is the only one we have ever seen come up for sale.

The appointee, Abraham Hunt, was the principal merchant of Trenton. He was appointed barrack master in 1770, and became a member of the N.J. Committee of Correspondence in 1774. It was at Hunt’s house that the Hessian Colonel Rall enjoyed, somewhat to excess, his Christmas revels the night before Washington’s surprise attack in 1776, and Hunt’s “hospitality” doubtless contributed to the success of the Americans. Hunt was later charged with treason but was exonerated and continued in service to the American cause. After the war, he was one of the founders of Trenton Academy, and was a charter member of the Board of Aldermen when the city of Trenton was incorporated in 1792.

John Foxcroft served as one of the two deputy Postmasters General for the colonies alongside Benjamin Franklin from October 1761-1775. During the American Revolution, Foxcroft remained loyal to the British government. After the war, he became an agent for British packet ships in New York City. Foxcroft died in 1790 and was buried in the Trinity Churchyard in New York.

Purchase Now $45,000

Frame, Display, Preserve

Each frame is custom constructed, using only proper museum archival materials. This includes:The finest frames, tailored to match the document you have chosen. These can period style, antiqued, gilded, wood, etc. Fabric mats, including silk and satin, as well as museum mat board with hand painted bevels. Attachment of the document to the matting to ensure its protection. This "hinging" is done according to archival standards. Protective "glass," or Tru Vue Optium Acrylic glazing, which is shatter resistant, 99% UV protective, and anti-reflective. You benefit from our decades of experience in designing and creating beautiful, compelling, and protective framed historical documents.

Learn more about our Framing Services