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October 26, 2018

244-year-old Philadelphia newspaper discovered at New Jersey Goodwill store

Auctioneers say it's worth up to $16,000

Odd News History
join or die ben franklin snake The Pennsylvania Gazette/Library of Congress

Benjamin Franklin's political "JOIN, or DIE" cartoon, originally published in The Pennsylvania Gazette in 1754.

A rare copy of a Philadelphia newspaper from 1774, emblazoned with the iconic "Unite or Die" snake, was discovered at a Goodwill center in New Jersey.

The 244-year-old issue of the Pennsylvania Journal and the Weekly Advertiser was published Dec. 28, 1774, predating the start of the Revolutionary War by just a few months when the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord in on April 19, 1775.

The copy is also one of few papers from the Revolutionary Era that had a "Unite or Die" snake masthead – a variation of Benjamin Franklin's "Join, or Die" emblem first published in 1754 (long before it became inspiration for the Sixers). The only other known copies of the paper with that date are at Illinois State University, the University of Chicago, and Yale University.

The paper was reportedly brought to a Goodwill collection center in Woodbury, Gloucester County, framed and under glass, according to NJ Pen. The donor is unknown.

High-value Goodwill donations are typically sold online for auction at, but the team representing Goodwill for Southern New Jersey and Greater Philadelphia will first have the paper appraised. The item has already been verified as authentic by the Cohasco auction house in New York, which estimated its value to be between $6,000 and $16,000.

The paper itself reflects much significance from the Revolutionary Era, as well as links to Philadelphia's history. Three items in the paper are signed by John Hancock, who was president of the Provincial Congress at the time.

There are also local advertisements for Benjamin Rush, the Philadelphia physician who signed the Declaration of Independence and was a vocal opponent of the slave trade. Rush also advocated for the Young Ladies' Academy of Philadelphia, the city's first chartered women's institute of higher education. 

Officials from Goodwill told the Associated Press they hope the paper will end up in an area of Philadelphia where it can be viewed by the public.

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