III. Accounts, 1730s
Lemay, J. A. Leo
by permission of the American Philosophical Society
Six of Franklin’s surviving account books or (in one case) groups of accounts record business transactions before 1748. The three major account books, our primary source, record only credit sales. Thus they represent merely a small fraction of Franklin’s business. They nevertheless reveal a good bit not only about Franklin’s printing business but also about life in Philadelphia from 1729 to 1748. The three major account books are first, Ledger A&B (which has two parts: first, chronological journal entries generally made on the date of the transaction; and second, ledger entries, arranged by customer). Second, the Shop Book (a chronological account) from 1735 to 1739. Third, Ledger D, with materials systematically recorded from 1739 to 1747 (and various records added to the Ledger later). Most, but not all, of the records in these account books concern either Franklin’s printing or sales in his shop.