Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Plate marks

Over the last year, I have further narrowed my billhead collecting to only buying items that carry a plate mark. Early billheads were printed from hand engraved copper plates. The plate would leave an impression along the outer edges of the billhead. You can see this outline fairly well in the maltser billhead below.
Rickard's calls this effect the "dish effect." Commonly, traders used their billhead plates for trade cards and for entries in local trade directories.

David McNealy Stauffer dates the first copper plate engraving in America in 1690 on Massachusetts paper money. In 1760, Philadelphia engravers appear on the scene, with Henry Dawkins being the first. Dawkins engraved maps, book plates and billheads. Dawkins was an Englishman who supposedly died in prison having been caught counterfeiting money during the Revolution. Paul Revere was another famous copper plate engraver. I have two American copper plate billheads in my collection. They are much harder to come by then UK examples.
The engraver on the Youle billhead is Smith. The copper plate mark on the Youle billhead faint and most noticeable along the right hand side.
The Brown billhead again has a faint plate mark. There is no engraver's mark either. Here are one more example of copper plate engraved American billhead.
Much more common are UK examples. Here are many from my collection below, some you have already seen before.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Manuscript Billheads

Manuscript billheads have no printed element to them. They are merely a handwritten receipt, but, unlike a regular receipt, have the words 'bought of' which places them in the billhead category. These billheads are purely utilitarian in nature. However, sometimes the hand writing can ad a decorative flair to them and make them pleasing to look at. As far as researching these billheads, the hand writing does make it more difficult to decipher business names and locations. Here are some examples:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

In the news: Seed Billheads

I recently read an article on the seed industry on the New York Times website about rising seed costs. So, I thought I would show some seed billheads today. My favorite is the Jerome Rice billhead with the comical graphic showing the farmer trying to lift a giant cabbage.









Monday, March 1, 2010

Billhead of the Month - Kyser & Rex

I recently purchased a ledger of pasted in billheads. I soak out the billheads and sell them. A part of me cringes as I do destroy the historical value of the ledger by doing this. However, I combat that with the notion that I am getting these billheads into collectors hands. The ledger I recently purchased had a ton of neat billheads. One of my favorites is the the Kyser & Rex firm of Frankfort, Philadelphia. When I researched it I realized the significance of this billhead. The firm was a manufacturer of iron toys, including mechanical banks, that generate some significant prices in the market. What I found out about the firm, I got from the Mechanical Bank Collectors of America's website.

1883 graphic billhead for Kyser & Rex manufacturers of hardware specialties, iron toys, novelties and house furnishing goods of Frankford, Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Left side signboard gives the location of the firm’s branch office and sample room. Across the top its states Variety Iron Marks and the firm partners Louis Kyser and Alfred Rex. Awesome watermark orange graphic of the iron works factory with an American Flag on its roof and advertising signage on the building. Items purchased include hatchets, hammers, ice breakers, ice picks, and chisels. Billhead has glue stains.


KYSER & REX, Frankford, Philadelphia, Pa.: Louis Kyser and Alfred C. Rex were frequent patentees of mechanical banks in the late 1870’s and early 1880’s. They were the owners of the firm of Kyser & Rex, manufacturers of iron castings and hardware, and their line of mechanical banks was one of the most important and widely sold. After 1884 the concern became Alfred C. Rex & Co., and was continued under that name for some years thereafter. Their foundry was located at the corner of Trenton Avenue and Margaretta Street, Frankford, and at times they also had an establishment in Philadelphia proper. Rudolph M. Hunter, who was associated with Kyser and Rex in patenting several banks was a mechanical engineer and patent attorney, but it is not known if he was regularly employed by the company or merely became interested in the subject of mechanical banks through serving them professionally.


Among the banks manufactured by Kyser & Rex and by Alfred C. Rex & Co. were the Bowling Alley, Uncle Tom, the various size Organ Banks, the Baby Mine Bank (Feeding The Child), Chimpanzee Bank, Confectionery Bank, Motor Bank, Dog Tray, and the Lion And Monkeys. From certain records at the Stevens factory, however, it seems that Stevens acquired the patent rights to the Motor Bank, although this bank does not appear listed as a Stevens product in any of their catalogs of the period which have been examined.

Safe Billheads