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In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the Frank H. Fleer Corporation of Philadelphia was known for its chewing gum production and for the promotional related activity of sports and entertainment trading cards. In 1928, the company released the first ever “Dubble Bubble Gum” and later — it may be as late as 1955 — made available 48 prints of Philadelphian Joseph Boggs Beale (1841-1926) to “the teachers of America.” The reproduction of Beale’s paintings ranged from the “Northmen Discovery of America” in 1000 to the “Emigrants Arrive in the Land of Liberty,” in 1899. Plate 23 of the Beale collection is “Franklin at the Constitutional Convention.”
In the educational portion of the release, the Fleer Corporation notes that “this portfolio book was prepared to help the youth of the nation with their history studies and to make them more conscious of the traditions that developed this great nation into the democracy that it is.” To that end, they suggest that the teachers create “a date quiz,” and “a history guide” on what students remember of the Beale collection.
In Plate 23, thirteen delegates are represented and it is very difficult to identify anyone other than Washington and Franklin, though we have provided an educated guess on the identity of each delegate above (click on a delegate in the image to open his biography). Clearly visible are the Rising Sun chair, the half-draped widows, and the ink well. Washington, even though he is sitting, is still higher than anyone in the painting. According to the editorial commentary, Beale portrays Franklin making “a masterful address before the assembly that was presided over by George Washington.”