Sep 28, 2023 - Sale 2646

Sale 2646 - Lot 226

Price Realized: $ 3,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,000 - $ 1,500
(NEW YORK CITY.) David R. Lambert. Letter copy book of a New York cotton merchant. 265 manuscript pages plus [21] index pages. Folio, 14 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches, original calf with spine labels reading "Letter Book" and "D.R.L." and initials "D.R.L. N.Y." on front board; minimal wear to contents. New York, 1821-1825

Additional Details

David Rogers Lambert (1772-1825) was raised in Wilton, CT, and graduated from Yale; Archibald Gracie of Gracie Mansion fame was his uncle. He became a successful New York merchant in the firm of Lambert & Brothers with his younger brothers John and Samuel, importing cotton and turpentine from the South. They also dabbled in rum, wine, potash, and other products, sometimes selling to the European market via Liverpool.

Many of the letters recorded in this book are to suppliers in New Orleans, Natchez, North Carolina, and other southern ports, and with his ship captains. Lambert's 15 March 1821 letter to Captain Charles Coffin implores: "Get in all you possibly can by having every hole and corner filled. The bales being small, you will be able to stow to more advantage in the cabbin and state rooms as far as that will go."

Lambert also corresponded regarding land investments in the village of Rochesterville (now the city of Rochester, NY)--see pages 18, 32, and more. Many letters involve the wayward son of customer Josiah Howard of New Bern, NC, who attended Princeton College and elsewhere. An 8 April 1822 letter attempts to recruit one Daniel Gerrish to manage a marble quarry in his possession, listing several local projects which will require the stone: "a banking house for the United States Bank, several churches, an enlargement and embellishment of our public walk, called the Battery, and an Exchange on an extensive plan."

The letters were copied into this volume in at least two different clerical hands, most unsigned. We suspect that the handful of entries in a rougher hand signed "DRL & Co" might be in Lambert's own hand. The bulk of the letters are dated 1821 and 1822, and taper off before ending in April 1825. Heading home from a wedding on 3 June 1825, Lambert argued with a street gang called the Spring Street Fencibles and was beaten to death near Astor Place. One final letter dated 13 July 1825 is written by Samuel F. Lambert as his brother's executor.

Lambert's childhood home is today owned by the Wilton Historical Society.