Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Billheads and Postal History

I was searching through ebay uk yesterday and typed in the search term "invoice". When searching on any ebay or google be sure to use other terms than billhead like "invoice," "receipt" and "statement." I have had lots of look buying cheap billheads under these terms. Anyway, my invoice search turned up some interesting billheads. Ever wonder how billheads were mailed. Well, in the UK here are some pictures - the billhead was either wrapped in cover paper or folded like a stampless letter would be. Really very neat. These billheads were listed under the Stamps category on ebay uk. Postal covers are a huge collectible area and I recently started researching. In the US a lot of billheads were mailed in graphic advertising envelopes. I will post examples and more info on these tomorrow.
Above is what the folded billhead would look like when mailed. Below is the billhead after being opened.
Two more folded examples and fold outs.

Graphic Billheads - Factories

Here are some examples of billheads with factories.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Graphic Billheads - Animals

As promised, here are some nice examples of animals on billheads. A 90 day terapeak search turned up a lot of horse and cow/bull examples. However, overall animal graphics are uncommon on billheads.

First example is the veterinary billhead for the Duke of Buccleuch for vet services for horse (castration being one of the services - yikes!). Nice graphic of a healthy and strong horse.

Next up a nice billhead with a wonderfully adorable dog.
Now how about a bull.
Finally, let's not forget the eagle from the Wetherill billhead.

Next up - graphic billheads with factories.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Graphic Billheads - Stores

Here are some nice examples of store front graphic billheads. Typically shops are overstated and grandiose in order to instill in the customer the importance of the shop in question and to illicit more business. Think of it in the context of many billheads being printed in the Gilded Age - the age of wealth, big business and robber barons. The stores and shops had were competing for business and the bigger the store the more important.

The first example I have, doesn’t fit into the Gilded Age time frame, but it is interesting as it is the earliest billhead in my collection that has a shop / store front on it. I have shown it before in a previous post, but here is a close-up of the store for Christopher Binks.

Next up in the time line is the Henry Nazro & Co. billhead from the 1850s. Notice the large opulent store in downtown Milwaukee. With passerbys and carriages out front.

Next up is an 1870s billhead for John Nazro & Co. Henry Nazro got out of the business and his brother took it over and changed it to his name. The building looks the same, but the corner of another building previously shown has been eliminated so that the customer only can look at the Nazro building. Looks more imposing without anything around it.

Next up several 1870s billheads. Some of which I have shown in previous posts. Henry Sears & Co. of New York, McKesson & Robbins of Philadelphia, Barnes and Van Duzer of New York.

Notice above the signage Sears shows on the building. Much more imposing than the Nazro billheads.
McKesson too has a lot of signage on the outside of its building. Nice picture of a trolley out front too and an American flag on the roof.

Less signage on the Van Duzer building, and instead of people walking by out front, this store graphic has men working and loading wagons out front.
Lastly the Barnes Building. Shows people and men loading wagons out front. Lots of signage along the front and side of the building too.

Next up graphic billheads with animals (so I can show off my recently purchased Veterinarian Billhead).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Quick Reference: Graphic Categories

This is a sort chart of basic graphic categories. There are lots of billheads out there that don't fit these categories so, this is only a quick referenced. I will show some examples in the next few post.

Categories of Graphics:

Exteriors = storefronts, factories, hotels & farms, trade signs, and harbor

Interiors = store interiors, hotel interiors

Animals = livestock, horses, whales, eagles, lions, deer, fowl,

Machines = trains ,carriages, agricultural equipment, engines

Products = cutlery, groceries, gravestones, coffins, guns, goods, teeth, clothing, beer, china, lumber, tobacco, tools, coffee,

Signboards = squares, ovals, circles

People = tradesmen, Indians,


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Collecting Areas: Graphics

Another way to narrow done your collecting areas is to collect billheads based on the graphics (or lack thereof) on the document. In the early 19th century, few billheads had graphics and most were in manuscript form (i.e. handwriting only no printing). However, keep in mind that UK billheads did have graphics. As printers became more sophisticated and more printing houses opened, graphics made there way onto billheads. From DeSimone’s article on Rhode Island billheads, early graphics typically fell into three categories: products, services and views. DeSimone notes that the most popular products shown were stoves, ranges and furniture. The most popular services shown were undertakers, blacksmiths and coal dealers.

As far as views, the most popular depiction was of the business premises. This is a great area to collect. I will have some examples in the next post of places of business. Another view involved the company showing off their factories. These are a little harder to find in 19th century billheads. Finally, hotel and resorts depicted their facilities - again in the 19th century - theses are difficult to find and generally command high prices. Large business buildings also command higher prices than the smaller scale graphics.

One category of graphics that DeSimone fails to touch on is what I call the “signboard” graphic. That is a framed list of goods and services provided by the billhead merchant. Sometimes the signboard also has a small graphic inside of it. Signboards can be plain lines, or a more elaborate design. Additionally, you might find outlines in color.

Finally, there are some rarer graphics that appear - patriotric graphics are scarce, as are cameo stamps. Cameo stamp billheads command premium prices. See the article by Thomas Beekman from Magazine Antiques about Philadelphia cameo stamps. It is a great read. I also recently purchased Cameo Stamps from the Bella Landauer Collection. I hope to be able to scan some example pages for you when I receive the book. I do have one cameo stamp example from an item I sold on ebay several months ago. The stamp was on a telegraph envelope. Take a look below. Aren’t these stamps just awesome! Again, premium prices and scarce on billheads.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Joseph Henshaw Billhead and Boston Stock Auctions

I highly recommend searching through the ebay buy it now items as most of them do not show up in a search. Some do, but 80% do not. I was combing through them the other day and ran across a neat billhead for Joseph L. Henshaw dated July 23, 1860. What initially caught my eye was the item purchased - 2 Shares of Mass Cotton Mills. Hmmmm - could this be stock shares? A closer look at the header of the billhead at the small writing and sure enough that must be what the shares are. Specifically the header of this billhead states as follows:

Joseph L. Henshaw
No. 6. Merchant Exchange . . . . . State Street, Boston
Stocks, Bonds, and Other Securities, sold by Public Auction every Saturday.
Stocks and Bonds bought and sold on Commission.

While this billhead is very plain, it is a great part of stock auction history. I went on google books (my favorites researching tool) and here is what I found out about stock auctions.

From The Art of Speculation by Philip L. Claret:

Stock Auctions - In New York, Boston and Philadelphia the auctions provide a public market for the unlisted securities which is of some importance. These auctions are usual held weekly. Odd lots of local unlisted stocks usually provide the bulk of the trading. The auctions are also a convenient dumping ground for obscure and frequently almost worthless issues when an estate is being settled. Sometimes a long list of such securities will be offered "in one lot." The auctions attract bargainhunters who frequently find wheat among the chaff. Occasionally such a trader will buy for five or ten dollars securities which turn out to be worth thousands thereafter. In the case of well known unlisted stocks the auction prices provide some check on the quotations of dealers. (pp. 32-33).

A famous recent example of a stock auction was Google initial public offering.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Part III- Major Butler & Savannah GA

The third and last installment of the Wetherill billhead deals with who bought the barrel of fish oil and where it went.

The purchaser on the billhead is listed as “Major Butler.” Unfortunately, Major Pierce Butler died in 1822, so maybe this is just from his estate and children. The item bought was a barrel of fish oil. Then the following notation:

Shipped on the ship Globe, J.L. Hamilton master, commissioned to John McNish, Savannah, by order to Hugh Colhoun. Payment received signed by S.P. Wetherill.”

Hugh Colhoun became representative of Major Pierce Butlers estate. Colhoun came to by in charge after Major Pierce Butler's son, Thomas, decided to relinquish control over the estate. Colhoun had dealings with Stephen Girard in Philadelphia.

Major Pierce Butler (July 11, 1744 - February 15, 1822) was a soldier, planter, and statesman, recognized as one of United States' Founding Fathers. He represented South Carolina in the Continental Congress and the U.S. Senate. Although an aristocrat to the manor born, Butler became a leading spokesman for the frontiersmen and impoverished western settlers. Finally, this Patriot, always a forceful and eloquent advocate of the rights of the common man during the debate over the Constitution, was a large planter and among the political and social elite of the Southern colonies. In 1793 he held 500 enslaved African-Americans, who worked on his plantation at Butler Island and cotton plantation at St. Simons Island. One of his grandsons, also named Pierce Butler, married well-known English actress Frances ("Fanny") Kemble in 1834. One of his great grandsons, Owen Wister, Jr., was a popular American novelist and the author of the 1902 western novel, The Virginian.

John McNish ran one of Butler's plantations in Savannah, Georgia.

As for the ship Globe, it was part of th New Line, whose agent was Samuel Spackman. The company was founded in 1822 and ships sailed regularly between Philadelphia and Liverpool. The course was altered to Philadelphia to Savannah to Liverpool then back to Philadelphia. In 1823, the ships were as follows: Julius Caesar captained by Francis M. French 346 lbs; Globe captained by James Hamilton 500 lbs., Colossus captained by Robert Marshall 399 lbs; Courier captained by George H. Walker 388 lbs; and Delaware captained by John Hamilton 412 lbs. The ships sailed from Philadelphia on the 20th day of the month. In 1825, the ship Minerva captained by John Mayol 380 lbs was added to the line and the new ship Bolivar captained by Josiah Wilson took the place of the Globe in the later part of 1825.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Part II - Wetherill Billhead - The Eagle Graphic

A close look at the wonderful eagle graphic on this billhead says a alot about Wetherill. As mentioned in yesterday's post, Wetherill became one of the promoters and managers of the United Company of Philadelphia for the Establishment of American Manufactures. On the graphic, the eagle is holding a banner in its beak which reads, “Encourage Your Own Manufactures !!!” What a fitting motto.

The graphic also is signed by the engraver. The engraver of this billhead was Kneass S.C. The only Kneass I can find a reference to is rather famous himself. Kneass worked as an engraver in Philadelphia from 1805 to 1840, and became the second chief engraver of the United States Mint on January 29, 1824.

He was born at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, educated in Philadelphia, and became a copper and steel-plate engraver and an artist of considerable repute. In 1824 he was appointed engraver and die-sinker of the United States Mint, in Philadelphia. Prior to that time he was a member of the firms of Kneass and Dellaker, and of Kneass, Young and Co. His engraving office in Fourth Street above Chestnut was a rendezvous for the leading wits and men of letters of that day. He engraved a number of pictures and did good work on illustrated books. Married, first, in 1804, Mary Turner, daughter of William Honey- man, by his wife Jane nee Davison (1785-1826), and, secondly, Jane Kramer (d. 1854). He had six children by his first wife.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Part I - Samuel Wetherill Philadelphia Billhead 1824

The next three posts I am going to talk about a recent purchase of mine off of ebay. I full picture of the billhead is above. A watched this piece like a hawk and have to say was shocked that I won it for $10. This is an awesome early billhead with an even more awesome graphic of an eagle (I will write about the significance of this eagle in tomorrow's post).

Part I: Who was Samuel P. Wetherill?

The founder of the manufacture of chemicals was Samuel Wetherill, Jr., who about 1789 started the first white-lead factory in the United States, and who, though giving his attention to other manufactures, yet established at Wetherills drugstore, No. 65 North Front Street, the oldest and most extensive manufacture of chemicals in the country.

There have been four generations of Wetherills druggists in Philadelphia. Samuel, the founder, was a Quaker preacher of such talents and virtues as to attract to his ministrations the most eminent people of his day. He wrote " An Apology for the Religious Society called Free Quakers," of which society he was among the prominent founders and active members. In 1775 he became one of the promoters and managers of the United Company of Philadelphia for the Establishment of American Manufactures, and embarked with his whole energies in the business. There being no dyers at that time in Philadelphia, he undertook that branch ; and from dyeing to chemicals the transition was natural. He died in 1816, and was succeeded in the drug business by his son, Samuel Wetherill, Jr., in the "Wetherill drug-store," an old landmark of earlier, if not of better days. John Price Wetherill, a grandson, succeeded his father, Samuel, the son of the founder, Samuel. He was born in 1794, was a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences in 1817, and a member of the American Philosophical Society, and of the Geological Society in 1832, an honorary member of the Boston Society of Natural History, a member in 1844 of the Mineralogical Society of St. Petersburg, in 1848 a member of the American Society for the Advancement of Science, and of the New Jersey Society of Natural History. He inherited the fighting propensity of his ancestor, and was captain of the Second City Troop for several years, and known as " Col. John Price Wetherill." His scientific attainments won him these and other marks of merited distinction. He died in 1853.

Samuel Wetherill and his son, Samuel, Jr., being anxious to do more than to sell a purchased article, commenced the manufacture of white lead on the 19th of September, 1809, at the northwest corner of Chestnut and Broad Streets. It is said that efforts were made by an agent of the English manufacturers to discourage the Wetherills from commencing this business. This subsidized adviser failed in his efforts. The Wetherills commenced the manufacture of their white lead as they had determined, but they did not continue it at that place much longer than nine months. Their factory at Broad and Chestnut Streets was totally destroyed by fire June 13, 1810. They changed its location, and erected their new white-lead factory at the northeast corner of Twelfth and Cherry Streets, to which they subsequently added facilities for the manufacture of other chemicals and drugs. In October and November, 1811, Samuel Wetherill, Jr., obtained patents for a mode of washing white lead, for setting the beds or stocks in making white lead ; for screening and separating white lead, for separating oxidized from metallic lead in the process of making red lead, and using machines for that purpose.

History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884, By John Thomas Scharf, Thompson Westcott
Published by L. H. Everts & co., 1884

Part II - The Eagle Graphic.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Stocks and Bonds: Billheads of JB McGeorge

I love ephemera dealing with the stock market, purchase of stocks, bonds or the like. I also have a nice board game collection associated with this theme. I recently purchased off of ebay a collection of letters and billheads for J.B. McGeorge of New York. The billheads are very plain, but they are the only ones I have seen that advertise for selling of RR Bonds and Stocks. They include the coveted “bought of” line to. I have pictured below the two billheads I bought. Each has a signboard graphic on the left side. Both are dated in the later part of 1880. McGeorge sold Commercial Paper, City RR Stocks & Bonds and his orders were executed on the New York Stock Exchange.
I was only able to find out very little about McGeorge and nil on the purchaser of the HW Silverman notes HB Hawley of Connecticut.

Based on a search of the NY Times article archive (highly recommend this). The trick is to read every article that pops up with your search as several articles are buried within each item.
  • Transferred Stock Exchange membership to James N. Brown & Co. November 1, 1896 NY Times.
  • Listed on Board of Directors for Big Level and Kinzua Railroad in 1889.
  • Listed as Secretary and Treasuer of the Danbury & Bethel Horse Ry Co. in 1886 of Danbury CT.
  • Listed as Secretary of the Bradford, Bordell & Kinuza RR in 1895, and as a director in 1896.
  • Took assignment of HW Silverman when it failed in 1890. NY Times 12/9/1890
  • Took assignment of Hooper & Pryor makers of fur hats in 1888. NYT 1/4/1888
  • Transferred Stock Exchange seat to Brent Good in September 1896. NYT 9/27/1896
  • A maid named Jennie Davis / Jennie Rogers was accused of stealing silverware and apparel. NYT
  • Discharged $40,936 liabilities in bankruptcy NYT 1/11/1900

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Evolution of a Billhead: E.E. Eaton

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.

Now for the billheads:

The first one is for Eaton & Abbey with the E.E. Eaton stamped in red over the top. Billhead is dated 186 put with 1870 written over the top of it. The billhead has a signboard graphic on the left advertising Oriental Powder, Guns, Gun Materials and Traps. Its ad line under the company name advertises Guns, Pistols and Sporting Goods.
Next up is a billhead for E.E. Eaton dated April 1871. It still has the signboard graphic on the left and same ad line. The signboard is slightly different as it is more square.
The Great Chicago Fire raged in October 1871 and the next billhead we see for the company is November 1871, a very plain jane billhead. No graphic, but the ad line has changed to Guns, Pistols and Sporting Goods Generally.
In September 1872, a different graphic shows up on the billheads - that of a rifle. The ad line changes again to Guns, Pistols, Fishing Tackle and Sporting Goods Generally.