Copyright Bob Conge 2010
While a gravesite in the burial grounds of Philadelphia’s Christ Church is marked “Benjamin Franklin 1790”, he does not lie beneath that soil or any other for that matter.
This great American founding father, author, political theorist, statesman, and inventor was a fine scientist as well.
It was Franklin’s research of lightning and electrical fluid in combination with his experiments in refrigeration and heat conductivity that led to his quest for immortality.
In 1773, when Franklin’s work had moved from printing to science and politics, he corresponded with a French scientist on the subject of preserving the dead for later revival by more advanced scientific methods, writing: “I should prefer to an ordinary death, being immersed with a few friends in a cask of Madeira, until that time, then to be recalled to life by the solar warmth of my dear country.”
He had arranged with the astronomer David Rittenhouse for certain instructions to be carried out in secret upon his death. Bens body was to be exhumed from the grave on the very night of his burial and taken to his laboratory where he had prepared months earlier for the event. The gruesome task before his friend would require the skills of an experienced surgeon who he had arranged to meet at midnight. Yellow fingers of candle light moved across the black walls as Bens head was relieved of the burden of his heavy and lifeless body. The skull was then sealed like a glass jar and filled with alcohol to preserve and float the pinkish grey asset Ben wished to send beyond death into an unknown future. His head was then installed in an mechanical devise Ben had constructed to hide in plain sight, a marvelous clockwork automaton in his own likeness. Ben had built the automaton some five years earlier and it had become a fixture in his home that entertained all visitors with its ability to write “A penny saved is a penny earned” on a sheet of paper and then sign Bens name to it. The better part of Ben continued to reside unnoticed inside the automaton as it preformed for many years before its gears froze up and refused to write another word.
Some time in the mid nineteenth century a picker purchased the now somewhat tattered automaton along with some old furniture and silverware from the attic of a decedent of Ben.
The whereabouts of the automaton remained unknown for the next one and a half centuries. In 2004 Matt Walker stumbled across the machine in a cold storage sub-basement of an estate sale on the Old Kings Highway in East Sandwich Mass. Matt was intrigued and purchased the dusty old thing.
Back in his studio, looking over the mechanism inside the automaton, Matt realized it would require a specialist to give his find a much needed facelift. The next day he shipped the piece to Plaseebo Custom in Springwater New York for evaluation.
Bob opened the box at Plaseebo with great anticipation, he loves creepy. But what was found inside the automaton was beyond imagination, a hand written letter signed by Benjamin Franklin, explaining the two hundred year old secret. Indeed, beneath the faded clay face lie the skull of Ben with his brain still floating inside. Totally freaked and enthralled Bob flaked off the cracked clay revealing the skull beneath to verify the seemingly impossible story. He immediately set to work on completing Ben’s long unfulfilled plan to cheat death.
The rebuilding and reanimation progressed at breakneck speed over the next two months of sleepless nights. Utilizing all the technological advances that were mere figments of creative wishful thinking in Ben’s time, enabled the Plaseebo team to not only jump start the brain but connect its processing to an onboard computer with software that enabled Ben’s thoughts to be interpolated with a voice program. BEN WAS BACK ! The team added power and cooling systems, audio and video input capability and built a mobility unit to mount the twenty first century automaton on. Then affectionately named him “Dead Ben”.
When returned to Matt Walker, Dead Ben became the creative driving force that inspired Matt to found his new company in 2007 and even suggested Matt name it “Dead Presidents Designs” in honor of his being the President of Pennsylvania from 1785 thru 1788.