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From The Scoop: Geppi Acquires Franklin's “Join, or Die” from Caren Collection

From the December 2 issue of Gemstone Publishing's The Scoop:

Stephen A. Geppi, President and Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Comic Distributors and founder of Geppi's Entertainment Museum, has acquired the May 9, 1754 edition of Benjamin Franklin's newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette, from noted collector and historian Eric C. Caren for $175,000.

This particular edition of Franklin's hugely successful colonial paper has long been noted as one of one of the hallmarks of the American independence movement. It contains the famous "Join, or Die" cartoon, which was penned by Franklin himself as a challenge to the colonies to unite in their own interests for concerns faced internally and abroad. The cartoon depicts a segmented snake, labeled with the abbreviations for each of the then-British colonies.

"It is humbling to touch, let alone become the custodian of such a defining piece of American history," Geppi said. "It is inexorably linked with both the development of a true American art form, comics, and the influence of popular culture on history."

The piece will reside in Geppi's Entertainment Museum at Camden Yards, in Baltimore, Maryland, which is scheduled to open July 4, 2006, on the nation's 230th birthday.

"This is the only copy of this cartoon that I have ever seen in private hands and I have been collecting since 1971," Caren said. "It is only appropriate that this cornerstone piece finds a permanent home in what is internationally recognized as the premier holding of comic and cartoon memorabilia in the country. Its message has been invoked during the American Revolution, The Civil War, etc. The strong sentiment, like the piece is timeless and I am glad that Steve Geppi has added it to his world class collection."

Caren is a noted author, historian and collector. He is considered to have assembled the largest collection of rare newspapers and other news forms in the nation. One of his collections was acquired by the Newseum in Washington, D.C., where it will be on permanent display at their new facility.

Franklin purchased and began publishing the newspaper in 1729, and it became one of his most successful ventures behind Poor Richard's Almanac. Born in 1706, Franklin was noted as a printer, publisher, scientist, statesman and philosopher. By the time he passed away in 1790, he had his hand in most of the major events of his day. He served on the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence, and importantly secured France's economic and military support for the Revolution, among numerous other achievements.

The "Join, or Die" piece was created in 1754, the same year he called for a colonial council to organize defense and to develop policies for Native Americans. The paper reportedly had the largest circulation of any in its region.
For additional information about the early period of comics history, readers may wish to consult The Official Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, 35th Edition, now on sale at comic shops and bookstores.

Produced for the benefit of all who enjoy the hobby of collecting, Gemstone Publishing's The Scoop is available free of charge to anyone who wishes to receive it. To view the latest edition, or to sign up, visit The Scoop online by at