Benjamin Franklin named Washington

The large figure depicts an elegant standing figure with the name “Washington” written in gold enamel around the base. This refers to George Washington, the first President of the United States – except the figure is actually of Benjamin Franklin.

According to the entry for a similar figure at the American Philosophical Society, this ceramic figurine is an adaptation of Francois Marie Suzanne’s 1793 terracotta statuette of Benjamin Franklin. Suzanne’s statuette was frequently reproduced with variations of costume and poses. 

In Staffordshire, the statuette was misidentified as “George Washington,” and the mistake was repeated. Staffordshire experts say that figures labeled Washington resembling the first US president are extremely rare. Nearly all of these so-called “Washington” statuettes actually depict Franklin.

Item Details:

Price: $2,900

Item date: Circa 1850

Dimensions: 15 3/4 inches high x 7 inches diameter

Condition: Condition good. To the edge of the base below the "N" in Washington are two glazed chips occurring in the making of the figure.

See article from Mel Buchanan, Assistant Curator of 20th-century Design at the Milwaukee Art Museum, where she discusses a very similarly marked figure in their collection (English (Staffordshire), Figure of Benjamin Franklin, 1780-1800. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Floyd A. Segel, M1984.111) Reading

Sellers Details:

Name: Paul Vandekar

Telephone: +1 212-308-2022


Seller listing:

Seller website:


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