As with most museums, getting items accepted into the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History can be tricky business. However, in November 2013, the museum almost immediately accepted a small depiction of American history from an unlikely source. Before retiring from Duke University’s Divinity School, Professor Richard Heitzenrater created a miniature replica of the printing press Benjamin Franklin used as an apprentice between 1725 and 1726. The innovative professor used the small piece as a teaching tool, showing his students the intricate process behind 18th century printmaking.
The small press’s construction so matches that of the original press that tiny wooden pegs hold almost all of the item’s joints together. Heizenrater’s miniature joins the original, full-sized press, which the museum has owned since 1901. And both of the Smithsonian items also match T/m’s fully functional miniature press, pictured above, by William L. Gould.