Feb 04, 2016 - Sale 2404

Sale 2404 - Lot 30

Price Realized: $ 3,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,500 - $ 3,500
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION--1780.) Ledger of a privateer investor and merchant. [82] extant manuscript leaves, irregularly paginated. Folio, contemporary calf, worn, boards detached; many leaves completely or partially torn out, otherwise moderate wear. [Philadelphia?], 1779-85 and 1829-57

Additional Details

This ledger records payments on three ships in 1780, all of them apparently privateers. Five times, payments are recorded for "prize per the Active," with merchants John Patton, Joseph Ogden, Captain Adamson, and William Forbes. While there were several privateers named the Active, this was possibly the brig commissioned in Philadelphia in December 1780, owned by John Patton and James Craig. The brig Schuylkill is also mentioned once; it was probably the same vessel which was commissioned as a privateer in February 1781, also owned by Patton, Craig, Philip Moore, and others. The brig George is mentioned the most frequently, with seven entries in 1780. It may have been the same as the privateer brigantine George, also owned by Craig and Moore. Philadelphia merchant James Craig (1735-1800), who also served as a commissioner of naval stores, would seem to be the common thread here. His name does not appear in the account book, though Patton and Moore are both recorded as trading partners. We would be unsurprised if a handwriting sample showed Craig to be the author of this account book, though the evidence is circumstantial.
Other notable trading partners in the ledger are Mifflin & Butler, William Dewees, Thomas McKean, Francis Wharton, and Stephen Decatur. Most of the accounts are dated 1780 or 1781; many of the later transactions from 1783 to 1785 are for sales of wine. The first 34 leaves of this volume were used as a ledger by the original owner from 1779 to 1785 (22 other early leaves having since been torn out). The volume was later used as a farm ledger in rural Pennsylvania (apparently by a man named Joseph Newell) from 1829 to 1857. This second owner added numerous accounts in the blank areas of the 1780s ledger, as well as frequent graffiti.