Friday, December 26, 2008

More UK Billheads


As promised, here are some more billheads from the lot I purchased. I also have two more in the mail from a different vendor off of ebay uk. There are also several I am watching and waiting to see what my bonus is this year before I pull the trigger on them. If it is good - then they are mine - if not, then I will have to work some overtime to get them! Anyway, here are the other billheads.

To the right is a billhead for Cranston & Elliott of Edinburgh Silk & General Drapers. To a Miss Douglas who bought a lot if items from them. Some of those items include: umbrellas, chemise, silk, drawers, and buttons.





Next up is a clock and watchmaker billhead for James Whitelaw of Edinburgh dated 1873 for a JB Douglas. The bill is for cleaning of a gold leveer watch. I cannot find much on Whitelaw, but some of his clocks have sold at auction in the range of $2,000 -12,000.







Last up is which kind of falls in the range of a bill of lading and a receipt. It is for David Hutcheson & Co. dated 1861 for a Campbell for goods shipped via steam ship. There a longer list of goods attached to this receipt.

A little bit about David Hutcheson:

Hutcheson worked his way up through the shipping trade, eventually becoming a manager and partner at the Burns shipping company, which initially mainly operated steamers between the Clyde and Liverpool.

In 1851, by which time the company owned ocean-going vessels, the steamers were sold to the MacBrayne brothers, for whom Hutcheson now worked. The company leased the island of Staffa in the interests of the tourist trade, and sailed as far north as Lochinver.

The company survives today but under the name Caledonian MacBrayne.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

New additions - more billheads from the UK

I recently got more billheads from a lot of receipts I bought from ebay uk. Whenever these items arrive, I am giddy with glee at what I find. The lots on ebay do not give you everything that is in the lot, so there are always surprises. This week's lot (I have three more coming! Yippee!!) include the following:

Nice example of a Florist billhead. It is dated 1847 and the business was James Kelly of Edinbugh. It is a nice engraved billhead with one side advertising Tanfield Nursey and the other Garden & Flower Seeds. The billhead was printed by E. Edmonston. The invoice was for Sir George McKenzie, bart. McKenzie bought rye grass, red clover seed, and a prunning knife.

Next up is a billhead for James Young a Victual Dealer (Grocer) in Edinburgh, Scotland. This is a small billhead and dated 1850. Not fancy,but still a nice example.

Now, this billhead does not have the traditional "Bought of" phrase, you might classify it as a receipt, but it is nice nonetheless. Yes, it is very plain, but I like plain billheads, especially early ones. This one is dated Aug 22 1834 and it is form David Lyle, Printer (you'd think as a printer he would have a more elaborate billhead), to Mr. Aitken for 100 bills Westfield Dalkeith. I am not sure what the Westfield Dalkeith bills might be. David Lyle published a number of undated chapbooks about 1860, including a numbered series of song-books with the title A collection of popular songs. His shop was in Dalkeith. I quick search of google books did turn up the fact that there were iron foundries in Westfield Dalkeith, so maybe Lyle printed some billheads for them?

More tomorrow -

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Clothing Billhead & Coffee / Tea Billhead


Unfortunately, I don't have many billheads in this category. I think there might be a couple more in a billhead lot I recently purchased. Once I go through those, I will add more. Here are two examples from the lot of Edinburgh Scotland billheads I bought about a month ago.

CLOTHING: A. Moffat Boot & Shoe Warehouse dated 1894. I was not able to find out anything about Moffat on google books.






One for James Church Wholesale & Family Grocer - Tea and Coffee Merchant. Again I could not find anything out about this merchant. Bums be out when I can't find anything - I think I enjoy the research part more than the billhead itself sometimes. Both billheads were for a family named Borthwick - there were some famous Borthwick's but I have not been able to nail down the individuals specific to these billheads.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Guns & Cutlery

Here are a few examples of some guns and cutlery billheads. I think these go together and I am not entirely sure why. The cutlery trade in the United States was once dominated by Sheffield manufacturers, but in the 1860s new innovations in the U.S. allowed cutlery to move from being hand-made to machine made and thus the US cutlery became cheaper and better quality.

BIGGS, SPENCER & CO., 335 Wabash avenue, Chicago. Cutlery and Guns. The above line of goods were well represented by the old established house of these exhibitors, and the display made was especially attractive, comprising, as it did, specimens of the finest manufactures. The Florentine carved work on one muzzle-Loading gun being unique, and the engraved locks and furniture on another representing the highest class of modern engraving on metal. Breech-loaders of all the various actions evidence the great advance in sporting arms within twenty years or so, the first breech-loading shot gun (then considered a useless novelty) being exhibited by Lefaucheux, of Paris, at the London Exhibition of all Nations in 1851. A pair of laminated barrels, partly finished, showing the method of manufacture from the rough bar to the completed gun,
attracted the attention of gun men. The cutlery and scissors were superb, and some of most exquisite finish, affording an opportunity for the comparison of French and English with the best American products. A curiosity was a case of scissors in the different stages of manufacture: First, the rod of fine steel; then, the roughly forged blade ; the same, filed, tempered, polished, matched, and riveted ; and, lastly, the perfect scissors ready for use. Cases of fine pearl and ivory table cutlery, and fine penknives, from the tiny blade half an inch long to the large clasp-knife, were in profusion at the greatest possible variety of price. Suffice to say, that the ability of any house to carry such a supply of fine wares is evidence that Chicago is an Empire city, commanding the trade and able to compete on equal terms with any sister city in the Union. (From The Inter-state Exposition Souvenir: Containing a Historical Sketch of Chicago; Also a Record of the Great Inter-state Exposition of 1873, 161-162).

LAU & GARLICHS: I cannot find much on this shop. There is one mention in the in the 1877 Rand’s New York City Business Directory and in 1874 in the New York Business Directory - neither of which are available in full at google books. There is another mention in 1913 of a J.H. Lau and Company, 75 Chambers Street, Fire-Arms. Not sure if this might be the same Lau.


HENRY SEARS & CO.: From The Inter-state Exposition Souvenir: Containing a Historical Sketch of Chicago; Also a Record of the Great Inter-state Exposition of 1873:

Henry Sears & Co., 62 State Street, Chicago. Fine cutlery and Fire-arms. This was one of the richest displays in the Exposition, and one in every way commendable to this old established house. Pocket cutlery of all kinds, razors, polished scissors, shears, etc., were shown in great variety. The specialty of this house is fine pocket cutlery, manufactured by them at Waterbury, Conn., under the style of the H. Sears Manufacturing Co. The goods of this firm have become so justly celebrated for their excellence that any article bearing the imprint of “H. Sears Manufg. Co.”, or “H. Sears and Sons,” is at once purchased without question . . In their exhibition were shown several fine specimens of breech and muzzle-loading shot guns, imported directly by the firm. (p. 134)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Powder Billheads

As promised, here are some examples of billheads for powder. I stumbled upon these billheads at a local antique mall. Every time I go back there are more. I need to make a call and try to buy the remainder of these. All of these billheads also were items bought by Austin Seeley of Reedsburg Wisconsin. Seeley is an interesting character. He was born in Ohio in either 1819 or 1820. He moved to Reedsburg in 1849, being one of the first families to permanently locate to the town. Austin Seeley was a carpenter by trade and though he owned a farm he always followed carpentry as his regular occupation. At one point he manufactured guns (the Wisconsin Historial Society is possession of one) and coffins. He was one of the substantial and highly respected citizens of his community.

EATON & ABBEY / E.E. EATON: Emma E. Eaton was the widow of Charles E. Eaton, a wholesale dealer in guns, fishing tackle, and sporting goods. Charles died in April, 1870. At the time of his death, he was a partner in the firm of Eaton & Abbey. A codicil of his will directed his wife to continue the business either under her own name or as copartner with others. Emma Eaton continued the business under Eaton & Abbey until August 1870, at which point she purchased the interest of the surviving partner for $8,000. Her entire stock of goods and other tangible property were destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire of October 9, 1871. Eaton realized $17,000 from insurance and another $6,000 from collected book accounts, she continued her business after the fire and paid off all her current liabilities at the time. She continued the business under the name “E.E. Eaton” for nearly 16 years.

HAZARD: In 1837, Col. Augustus Hazard, a successful merchandising agent from NY, bought a one-quarter interest in the Loomis, Denslow and Company powder mill. By 1843, Hazard became the principal owner and the Hazard Powder Company was incorporated. By the outbreak of the Civil War, the company was making over $1 million annually. At the end of the Civil War, the US Government dumped huge quantities of surplus powder on the market, resulting in a great drop in the price of powder, which drove many powder companies out of business. Augustus Harzard died in the market turmoil in 1868, and without leaving an heir, his son Horace had been killed in an explosion in 1855. In 1871, a major explosion destroyed several of the company’s buildings and in 1873 the company suffered through another economic panic. In 1972, Hazard, Du Pont and Laflin and Rand formed the Gunpowder Trade Association which stabilized the industry for two decades by absorbing or bankrupting their competitors. In 1876, Hazard shareholders secretly sold out to Du Pont.
THE AMERICAN POWDER-MILLS. — These mills, incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts, having their business office in Boston, are located in the corner of four towns — Acton, Sudbury, Maynard and Concord. They cover an area of 401 acres. The capital is $300,000. The annual production is in the range of $240,000. These mills were started by Nathan Pratt, in 1835, and they were run by him till 1864; then the property was sold to the American Powder Company, and that company was formed by the union of Massachusetts Powder-Mills, located at Barre, Mass., and incorporated under the name of the American Powder Company, 1864. They did a very successful business, and went out of business in 1883, and were succeeded by the American Powder- Mills. About sixty men are employed at the present time. They are doing a large and successful business. (From History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts: With Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men p. 294).

WHITEHOUSE: Junot J. Whitehouse was the local Chicago agent for the E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. In 1876, DuPont commissioned Oscar Cobb & Co. to design a residence for Whitehouse. It is an Italianate-style residence. It is a Chicago landmark.

Eleuthere Irene Du Pont
was the founder of the immense works known as the “Brandywine Powder Works,” near Wilmington, Delaware. He was a native of France, and came to the United States in the latter part of 1799. . . Having been a pupil of the celebrate French chemist, Cavoisier, . . . and noticing the poor quality of the gunpowder made in this country, he resolved to engage in its manufacture. . . Mr. Du Pont commenced manufacturing gunpowder at a point on the Brandywine Creek, about four miles above the town of Wilmington, in the State of Delaware. He prosecuted the business with such success that at the time of his death, . . . in 1834, this establishment was the most extensive one of its kind in the United States, . . .

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Collecting Billheads by Industry

Another way to collect billheads is by industry. I have tried my best to breakdown "industry" into more manageable categories. If you note I have missed any, please let me know.
  • Agriculture = machines, mowers, seeds
  • Ammunition, powder companies, guns, ordinance
  • Clothing = cloaks, shawls, hats, shoes, furs, fancy goods, hosiery
  • Coffee & Tea
  • Commodities = iron, oil, grain, paint, coal, tin, rubber, chemicals, steel, marble, cork
  • Custom houses / commission merchants
  • Cutlery & Hardware
  • Dry goods = soap, brushes, baking powder,
  • Groceries = oysters, confections, fruits, salt, fish, flour, pork, lard
  • Home goods = furniture, wallpaper, lamps
  • Horse related = livery, stable, gear, harness, wagon, buggy/carriage, feed
  • Industrial products = wire, bottles, glass, engines, boilers, scales, drill, pumps, tents, varnish, typewriters, refrigerators, fire equipment
  • Jewelry = diamonds, watches
  • Liquor = beer, whiskey, wine
  • Medicine = bitters, drugs
  • Music = pianos, organs, sheet music, instruments
  • Printing = printers, book binders, publishers, cards, stereotype, bank notes, engraving, lithography, newspaper, trade cards, magazines
  • Railroad = railway supplies, locomotive, bills of lading
  • Services = assayer, blacksmith, druggist, peddler, contractor, undertaker, optician, telephone & telegraph, saloon, importers, photographer, hotels, grocers, pharmacy
  • Sewing = thread, needles, notions
  • Shipping = boats, sails, bills of lading
  • Sporting = billiards, fishing, bicycles, toys
  • Stoneware, pottery, china
  • Stoves
  • Timber / Lumber = paper, turbine, sawmill, sashs & doors, frames
  • Tobacco, cigars
Again, this is a very cursory breakdown of industry. I will try to go into further detail in each category and show some examples in the next many posts - starting with Agriculture.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cuban Billheads on ebay right now

On ebay now there are some awesome Cuban billheads for sale by ebay seller filatelia_habana. Click the name and it will get you to the listing. I have pasted one picture below of an example of one of these billheads. I think it is a particularly nice example with the cameo stamp on it. Hard to find even US billheads with cameo stamps.

Just more examples that billheads outside of the US can be very beautiful. I never would have imaged that these Cuban ones could be so ornate.
Here is a link to a Magazine Antiques article about Philadelphia cameo stamps.




Monday, December 1, 2008

More UK Billheads

Thought I would show you a few more of the billheads I recently purchased on ebay.

Here is an example of a billhead that is in manuscript form (not printed) but written out by the proprietor. It is hard to read, but it has the billhead anatomy of the "bought of" and the items purchase. While maybe not as pretty as the printed billheads, still a valuable source of information and pretty penmanship nonetheless. The billhead is for a T. Milne of Edinburgh and dated 1809 for item purchased by Edington.

The next billhead is more decorative. It is for Robert Purdie a musicseller in Edinburgh. Billhead dates from 1835 for David Cockburn Esq who bought a cabinet pianoforte and a harp.

Purdie, Robert. The founder of a very large and important Edinburgh business. In 1804
he was a teacher of music in Jollie's Close in the Cannongate, but in 1805 he had gone to 3, James Street, where he remained until 1808. In 1809 he had opened a music shop at 35, Princes Street, and here commenced publishing sheet music, The number of the premises was changed in 1813 to 71, but in 1816 it was No. 70. It remained thus until 1828 when it was changed again to 83, Princes Street, and was so up to 1837. About this date the business was in the hands of John
Purdie at the same address. Besides the great quantity of sheet music which he published
he issued several important works, of which the chief is a collection of Scottish Songs in large octavo, arranged by R. A. Smith, and the literary contents edited and re-written by Lady Nairne and some other ladies. This work entitled " The Scotish Minstrel " extended to six volumes, the first three of which were reviewed in 1822. The first edition of it may be distinguished by the address 7o, Princes Street, while the second, in which there are some alterations, by that of
83, Princes Street. The third edition also has this, but it is from impressions of the plates worked off upon stone, and lacks the beauty both in the vignette title pages and in the music of the earlier copies. After the first publication of "The Scotish Minstrel," an " Irish Minstrel " was put forth in one volume of the same size and under the same musical editorship. It appeared, however, that Purdie had infringed on the copyright of some of the airs used by Thomas Moore
and the first edition was suppressed. It was again re-issued however with certain of the plates replaced by others. In 1827 another volume of the same size and character was published,
lished, " Select Melodies, with appropriate words, chiefly original, collected and arranged by R. A. Smith," large 8vo. Robert and John Purdie, in conjunction with Alexander Robertson, re-published the Strathspeys and Reels originally issued by the Gow family.

(pp. 191-192British Music Publishers, Printers and Engravers: From Queen Elizabeth's Reign to George the Fourth's, with Select Bibliographical Lists of Musical Works Printed and Published Within that PeriodBy Frank Kidson).