Franklin Mint


QUESTION:  Which of the following was NOT a knight of the round table?
A). Lancelot
B). Key
C). Gawain
D). Gareth

Yesterday's blog brought up the story of the Franklin Mint, and cited dolls as one of the fields in which limited edition collectibles were produced. Some of the dolls produced by the Mint honored famous people (Jackie Kennedy was a prime example here) or heroic legends. There are few legends more treasured in English lore than that of King Arthur and Camelot. The earliest tellings of the story of Arthur the warrior date to 830AD, by a Welshman struggling with the new Saxon leaders of their island country. From there, the story was embellished, adding the Knights of the Round Table, the tragic love story with Guinevere, the search for the Holy Grail, and other dramatic stories. When William Caxton published his La Morte d'Arthur in 1485 (one of the first printed books in the western world), he solidified the story as it is best known today.

King Uther Pendragon reigned over England during volatile times.  He had a son and heir to the throne named Arthur, who was hidden from Uther's enemies under the care of Merlin the Magician. Merlin placed a sword in a stone that could only be removed from Uther's proper heir and, when Arthur did so, he took the crown at Camelot. Firming up his title was the Lady of the Lake, who gave to Arthur Excaliber, a magical sword. Meanwhile, Arthur married the beautiful Guinevere and had to fight off the dark forces conjured by Guinevere's half-sister Morgan le Fey (more on these three women later). Arthur, struggling to keep his kingdom together during a civil war, established the Round Table in his palace at Camelot, around which he sought the council of his heroic knights. They fought all sorts of evil and had many adventures, with Arthur being mortally wounded by his traitorous nephew Mordred at the battle of Camlan. King Arthur was last seen being floated down a river to the Isle of Avalon, where he either died, or waits to come back to Great Britain's aid in a future time of need.

ANSWER:  B). Key.  Okay, this was a little tricky.  There was a knight named Kay.  And maybe somewhere along the line someone made a typo and called him Key, but there it is.

The Franklin Mint

In Southeastern Pennsylvania, the name Franklin Mint continues to be associated with what type of institution?
A). Candy Store
B). Credit Union
C). Coin Producer
D). Ice Cream Parlor

The American Treasure Tour blog is committed to telling the story of the pieces in our collection, sometimes one item at a time. Our challenge is that items occasionally require a backstory to make any sense, but we are brave. We tackle that challenge. Today, we are going to tell you about an institution that existed not so far from Oaks, Pennsylvania where the art of collectibles became a business:  The Franklin Mint.  The Mint was located in the nearby town of Wawa, Pennsylvania, the namesake of the rapidly expanding gas station/convenience store chain. Many people confused the Franklin Mint with one of the federally-controlled mints that pressed coins used in general circulation (quarters, dimes and the like) as well as official commemorative medals. There can be little doubt that its founder, Joseph Segel, had that confusion in mind when he founded the Franklin Mint in 1960. Segel founded the Mint with the intention to sell commemorative and collectible items in all shapes and sizes to the public, often in limited editions. 

Segel's vision began with the production of gold and silver medallions, then moved into legal-tender coin sets - often including international coins that were not otherwise easy to obtain in the United States such as uncirculated Panamanian currency. They expanded into die-cast cars, knives, high-end reissues of public-domain classic novels, commemorative plate sets (in 1990, they introduced a series of decorative plate sets dedicated to the popular cartoon program The Simpsons), and dolls. The line of products produced by Franklin Mint complemented another of creator Joseph Segel's ambitions, and in 1986 he founded the QVC home shopping channel, where many of his Franklin Mint items were sold off the television. Alas, the Franklin Mint closed their doors in 2000.  The brand continues to be marketed by Sequential Brands Group, but the Wawa plant is no longer producing items.  Join us next week when we talk about a few of the Franklin Mint items on display at your favorite American Treasure Tour!

ANSWER:  B). Credit Union.  They were founded in 1970.