Beautifully engraved certificate from the Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania
in 1865. This historic document has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of Franklin. This item is hand signed by the Company’s President ( William Sellers ) and Secretary ( Henry Horton ) and is
over 148 years old.
On February 5, 1824, Samuel Vaughan Merrick and William H. Keating founded The Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts. Located in the Philadelphia County Court House (known today as Independence Hall), The Franklin Institute's purpose was to honor Ben Franklin and advance the usefulness of his inventions. Soon, the Institute moved to the east side of Seventh Street, between Market and Chestnut Streets, (today the home of the Atwater Kent Museum) where it remained for its first century.
SELLERS, William, mechanical engineer, was born in Upper Darby, Pa., Sept. 19, 1824; son of John and Elizabeth (Poole) Sellers; grandson of John and Mary (Coleman) Sellers, and of William and Sarah (Sharpless) Poole, and a descendant of Samuel Sellers , who, with his brother George from Belpre, Derbyshire, England, arrived in Philadelphia in 1682.
Samuel Sellers took up a tract of land in Upper Darby, Delaware county, under Penn's Patent and a portion of this property in 1903 remained in possession of William Sellers, who was educated at a private school and was apprenticed to the machinist's trade with his uncle, J. Morton Poole, for nearly seven years. In 1845 he took charge of the large machine shop of Fairbanks, Bancroft & Co., in Providence, R.I. In 1848 he commenced the manufacture of machinists' tools and mill gearing. He was married, April 19, 1849, to Mary, daughter of Ziba and Eliza (Megear) Ferris, of Wilmington, Del. Mary Ferris Sellers died, Dec. 1, 1870. In August, 1873, he married Amélie daughter of Daniel F. and Charlotte (Behr) Haasz of Philadelphia, Pa. On the death of Mr. Bancroft, 1855, the firm of Bancroft & Sellers became William Sellers & Co., and in 1886 the corporation of William Sellers & Co., Incorporated, was established with William Sellers , president and engineer.
In 1864 he was elected a member of the American Philosophical society and president of the Franklin Institute, and in the same year his paper giving the first formula ever offered for screw threads and nuts, was read before the Institute, and the formula then offered afterward became the standard for the United States. The angle and the truncated form of thread therein proposed, were adopted by the International Congress for L'Unification des Filetages et des Jauges held at Zurich in October, 1900. In 1866 he was elected a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania.
In 1868 he was appointed a member of the first Fairmount Park commission. In 1868 the Edgemoor Iron Company was organized in the state of Delaware, of which he was elected president, and in the same year he was elected a director of the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore R.R. Co., reorganized as the Philadelphia, Baltimore & Washington R.R. Co., 1903.
In 1873, he was elected one of the two vice-presidents of the Centennial Board of Finance created by act of congress, for the business management of the Centennial exhibition of 1876. He was president of the William Butcher Steel Works, reorganized it as Midvale Steel Co., 1873–87, and continued as its largest stockholder.
In 1873 he was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, and in 1875 was appointed the corresponding member of the Société d'Encouragement pour L'Industrie National in Paris. His firm's exhibit of machinists tools at the Exposition Universelle at Paris in 1867 received a gold medal; at the Centennial exhibition in 1876 in Philadelphia, the judges reported: "This collection of Machine Tools is without a parallel in the history of exhibitions, either for extent, or money value, or for originality and mechanical perfection;" and at the Weltausstellung in Vienna in 1873, the Grand Diploma of Honor and five gold medals were conferred upon the firm.
At the Paris exposition in 1889, the firm received the highest award, the Grand Prix, together with several medals, and at the close of the exposition, the names of three collaborateurs were requested, to whom, as individuals, diplomas were sent; and William Sellers, in addition, was made Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur.