Peale, Franklin (1795-1870)
Autograph Letter Signed, Paris June 17, 1834, to “My dear Doctor”

quarto, two pages, formerly folded, docketed in ink on verso “Franklin Peale Paris June 17 1834”, ink slightly faded, but still readable, else very good.

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Benjamin Franklin Peale (born Aldovrand Peale), usually Franklin Peale, was an employee and third Chief coiner of the United States Mint at Philadelphia from 1833 to 1854. Although Peale introduced many innovations to the Mint of the United States, he was eventually dismissed amid allegations he had used his position for personal gain.

Peale was the son of painter Charles Wilson Peale, and was born in the museum of curiosities that his father ran in Philadelphia. For the most part, Franklin Peale’s education was informal, though he took some classes at the University of Pennsylvania. He became adept in machine making. In 1820, he became an assistant to his father at the museum, and managed it after Charles Wilson Peale’s death in 1827.

In 1833, Peale was hired by the Mint, and was sent for two years to study and report back on coining techniques. He returned with plans for improvement, and designed the first steam-powered coinage press in the United States, installed in 1836. Peale was made Melter and Refiner of the Philadelphia Mint that year, and Chief Coiner three years later upon the retirement of the incumbent, Adam Eckfeldt, who continued in his work without pay. Eckfeldt’s labor allowed Peale to run a medal business using Mint property. This sideline eventually caused Peale’s downfall: conflicts with Engraver James B. Longacre and Melter and Refiner, Richard Sears McCulloh led to Peale being accused of misconduct, and he was dismissed by President Franklin Pierce in 1854.

“Paris June 17, 1834

My dear Doctor,

       By a favorable opportunity I send to New York to the care of Rubens Peale the first specimen of Medal ruling that has appeared in France with a prospectus of its application which I beg you to present to the Franklin Institute in my name, it will I presume have some interest to the members as it was among them that this art had its birth and in whose journal the notice of its first application is recorded.

     I have seen and used the engine made by Mr. Saxton our country man in London for this process in which he has been admirably successful and I have now by me several specimens ruled by him and myself on steel they are principally heads transferred from choice medallions, they exhibit the prismatic colors with intense vividness (please excuse this word) and are certainly the most beautiful form in which this art has been exhibited. You may recollect that it has been patented in England by Mr. Barton and is applied to the making of what he has called his Buttons, but he has not done more than attempt the face or transfer from medallions.

     The Exhibition of the Products of French industry is now open four immense pavilions have been constructed on the place Louis Seize and a display of an inconceivably grand of the most beautiful and richest fabrics of France in every department, as well as the machines and instruments for their production is there made, the arrangements are ample and convenient, and much benefit and many useful hints, may be drawn from this exhibition and applied to our comparatively … under the authority of the Institute.

I enclose the acknowledgement of the receipt of others of your papers on the Mastodon, not doubting that you will approve of the disposition of the copies of which I have previously informed you … Franklin Peale”