[Philadelphia. 1766-1825]. Four volumes, approximately [400] total manuscript leaves. Folio ledgers, 13 x 8 inches, oblong 12mo. receipt books, 4 x 6 1/2 inches. First ledger in calf, tooled in blind: front board detached, rear hinge broken; boards and spine scuffed and stained; scattered foxing, but contents generally very good. Second ledger in three-quarter calf and marbled boards: boards scuffed, worn at extremities, front hinge starting; some scattered foxing, but generally very good; in a cloth clamshell box. First receipt book in calf, tooled in blind: a few loose leaves; very clean internally; very good. Second receipt book in three- quarter calf and marbled boards: spine disintegrating, boards scuffed and worn; some scattered foxing and transfer between leaves; about very good. In a cloth clamshell box, leather label. Item #WRCAM40327

An interesting collection of manuscript volumes belonging to John Browne, a boat builder and tradesman in Philadelphia. Approximately half of the material is related to Browne's business accounts, including receipts and lists of transactions. The other half, circa 1820, contains writing by Browne's wife, Molly, and possibly his children. This half of the manuscript material is of a more personal, scrapbook-esque nature, comprised of poems and pasted clippings. The first ledger holds accounts from 1776. The first twelve pages are tabbed and divided into an alphabetical index containing dozens of names. Following that are the individual accounts, comprising 121 numbered leaves, which are followed by the total summary for the ledger (7pp.), and lastly, several blank pages. The accounts detail money leant by Browne, which is then repaid in labor. The accounts are set up on facing pages, one side detailing the debt and the other the credit for said debt. Thus, on July 6, 1776, William Flud received "To Cash" £1.4.6, and the corresponding entry across the page reads "By 3 1/2 days work @ 7/0" to total £1.4.6. The debts are undersigned by the debtor and provide a fascinating glimpse into this system of loans and labor. The second of the two ledgers is more of a journal and scrapbook than an account book. Though the first five pages do contain some accounting information, they also contain a list of important familial and personal dates, a list of flowers growing in the garden, as well as two documents which have been pasted in. The first of these is a subpoena to Browne from the Court on the island of Tortola, dated January 13, 1798 and embossed with an official seal. The subpoena calls Browne to testify "in our behalf the truth of your Knowledge in a certain business of the Capture made by John Hodge Commander of [a] Private Commissioned Schooner." The majority of the middle of the volume is blank, though ruled for accounts. The latter half of the volume is written from the other side, making the rear board, in fact, the front board. This section of the ledger is, presumably, written by Browne's wife, Molly, circa 1820. It is primarily composed of verse and various pieces of prose, most of which have been copied from other sources. There are other manuscript pages pasted into this section which contain similar writings. The first of the receipt books has a few scattered entries dated 1776, 1779, 1792, and 1801, but the bulk of the book is devoted to 1788. The entries for 1788 deal almost exclusively with receipts for rent, though the other earlier and later entries are for items such as timber, and in one instance, a horse. The first few leaves have been pasted over with clippings from early newspapers. These are mostly verse, though there are some advertisements and brief news items. The second receipt book has been pasted over quite thoroughly, circa 1820, with many different and interesting woodcut illustrations. The contents of this volume provide an interesting snapshot of the printing arts at that time. Illustrations have been clipped from newspapers and periodicals, books and almanacs, packaging labels and revenue stamps, encompassing everything from advertisements for new products and services to zodiac calendars. One illustration shows a sperm whale, which is labeled "Candles and Spermoil"; another shows an early printing press under the banner, "The tyrant's foe, the people's friend." There are also several original children's drawings, as well as scraps of wallpaper and flocking. A truly fascinating little book.

Price: $4,750.00

Interesting Collection Relating to a Philadelphia Tradesman and His Family