NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

September 24, 2013

Port printer in the style of Benjamin Franklin

In October, the Federal Reserve will begin circulating the new Ben Franklin note, fashioned to beat the craftiest counterfeiters. Over a decade of research went into the new 3D security features, but not to worry — Ben’s face will live on as a constant reminder that, in our world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.

While gracing the $100 note with his portrait is a fitting way to preserve Ben’s legacy, he would remind us that “money has never made man happy, nor will it; There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness.” Instead, Ben firmly believed that “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” In fact, his memoirs clearly outline his thirst for knowledge and uncharted terrain: “I was passionately fond of reading and very fond of voyages.”

Ben’s self-made success became a blueprint for many aspiring youths, and he was the patron saint for all printers. In fact, one Newburyport fellow emulated the Franklin style and possessed the same journalistic instincts that earned him a spot in the annals of history among the stalwart men who helped build our nation. Edmund March Blunt, aka “The Skillet Thrower,” is described here by R L Jackson in the Essex Institute Historical Collections:

“The story of a many-sided genius reveals not only one of the most eminent hydrographers and navigation authorities of his time but a successful journalist, newspaperman publisher and pioneer in advertising.”

The printing press Ben apprenticed on would host the shop of Blunt and his partner, Howard Robinson, known as “The Sign of the Bible and the Quadrant,” located “six doors below from Wolfe Tavern” in 1793. Blunt made an announcement regarding this acquisition at the NY Printers Festival: “I have commenced a newspaper in Newburyport on a press once owned by Franklin of which I paid 40 dollars for.”

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