Franklin Printing Press, c. 1890s, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, The Franklin Printing Press, an English common press, from the Historic Relics Collection. In 1768, Benjamin Franklin visited the printing company in London where he had apprenticed in the 1720s. Franklin purportedly took a turn at this press, although he had not operated a press when he worked there. The press was then deemed so historically valuable that it was purchased and transported to the United States, where it went on display in the Patent Office Building and later went to the Smithsonian as the "Franklin Press.".