The Franklin Mint Collectables

The Franklin Mint Museum contains the eclectic collectable reproductions of America's largest private mint - and some of the famous originals on which they are based.

The Franklin Mint is the nation's largest private mint, manufacturing not just coins but a dizzying variety of collectibles. An attractive stone circular museum adjacent to the main production building on the 188-acre world headquarters in suburban Philadelphia maintains many of the collections offered by the Franklin Mint since its founding in 1964.

The Franklin Mint Museum houses original masterpieces by such world-famous American artists as Andrew Wyeth and Norman Rockwell. Works commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation, the Louvre, the White House and others are re-created on thimbles, spoons, plates, coins, bells, ingots, jewelry, tankards, perfume bottles and philatelics. The Franklin Mint works with hundreds of franchise agreements, from commercial marketers like Coca Cola to images authorized by the Vatican.

Here you will learn the history of plate collecting, which dates to the days of European nobility. It was a tradition to reward servants at holiday time with great platters piled high with food and fruit. After the feast the plates were hung on the wall. Gradually the nobility competed with each other to create the most beautiful and distinctive plates. The first modern plate strictly for collectors was produced in 1895. The Franklin Mint's first plate was a silver Norman Rockwell plate, 'Bringing Home the Tree,' introduced for Christmas in 1970.

Other rotating exhibits at the Franklin Mint Museum include the evolution of a collectible sculpture from clay mold through fired whiteware to finished piece. A wide array of collectibles with many of the Franklin Mint's patriotic themes are displayed. Several galleries highlight temporary art and photographic exhibitions which last from six to eight weeks.

Three special rooms in the heart of the cylindrical display area are devoted to some of the Franklin Mint's most popular collections. These include lavish porcelain collector dolls, Star Trek models and antique automobiles. Elsewhere, glass cases contain copies of priceless Faberge eggs.

The Franklin Mint specializes in bringing icons of popular culture to the masses through reproduction. The Franklin Mint Museum displays some of the originals used to make these copies. One of the most popular is a famous three-strand necklace of faux pearls worn by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The necklace was won by the Franklin Mint at Sotheby's 'Auction of the Century' for a bid of $211,500. The necklace was reproduced in exact scale for sale.

Another popular reproduction based on a Franklin Mint-owned original is a strapless white sheath dress and bolero jacket worn by Princess Diana. The gown was one of 79 dresses which Princess Diana sold at auction to raise money for charity. The Franklin Mint paid $151,000 for the gown which is now on permanent display.

The Franklin Mint sponsors many special events during the year. Among the most popular is the Antique Car show which draws over 30,000 visitors. Like the Franklin Mint Museum itself the events are free. The Franklin Mint Museum is located south of Philadelphia on US Route 1 at Franklin Center, PA. It is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m.

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