Four American Leaders The facts about Franklin as a printer are simple and plain, but impressive. His father, respecting the boy's strong disinclination to become a tallow-chandler, selected the printer's trade for him, after giving him opportunities to see members of several different trades at their work, and considering the boy's own tastes and aptitudes. It was at twelve years of age that Franklin signed indentures as an apprentice to his older brother James, who was already an established printer. By the time he was seventeen years old he had mastered the trade in all its branches so completely that he could venture, with hardly any money in his pocket, first into New York and then into Philadelphia without a friend or acquaintance in either place, and yet succeed promptly in earning his living. He knew all departments of the business. He was a pressman as well as a compositor.