Forget the image on the old half dollar.
Forget the paintings.
“Life masks” captured faces long before photographs.
This plaster cast was taken from the face of
Ben Franklin while he was still alive. It's part of the Laurence Hutton Collection at Princeton University.
This is the epitaph Franklin wrote for himself at age twenty-six; he died April 17, 1790:
“The body of Benjamin Franklin, Printer (like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding), lies here, food for worms; but the work shall not be lost, for it will (as he believed) appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author.”