Mar 10, 2011 - Sale 2239

Sale 2239 - Lot 17

Price Realized: $ 6,240
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 6,000 - $ 8,000
RARE PLANTATION ACCOUNT BOOK (SLAVERY AND ABOLITION---LOUISIANA.) Manuscript Account Book for the slaves kept on the l'Habitation Labranche plantation. (1807-1835) 60 pages. Small 4to, original vellum-covered boards, some warping as is common with vellum; spotting and a few stains, binding firm. Some childish pencil scribblings here and there, and on the blank leaves toward the end of the book. The last 36 pages of the book are recipes for various cures probably entered there by "Dr. Labranche" circa 1825-35. Louisiana, 1807-1835

Additional Details

The Labranche family plantation was one of the oldest in the Louisiana colony, and originally their crop, like that of the rest of the colony, was indigo. In almost an act of providence, the indigo crop failed at about the time Monsieur Jean Etienne de Bore developed a method for extracting granulated sugar from raw syrup. As a result, the Labranche family moved into the sugar business, for which they needed vast numbers of slaves (128 in 1833). This account book covers the years 1807 through 1835, with well-documented lists of all of the Labranche slaves, arranged by year, sometimes indicating the person's skin-tone: "negresse" or "mulatesse"; origin: "Senegal" or "Surinam"; or their particular abilities: "macon," "domestiques."
The accounting stops at 1835, and there follow eleven blank pages that a child has drawn or scribbled on, together with some sort of monetary or mathematical jottings. After these pages, the book was used by "Docteur Labranche," and contains eighteen pages of his accounts of patients, notes and prescriptions, including two long and detailed "traitements pour la Gonorrhee" and "la Dysenterie." Since the dates of these notes are concurrent in many cases with those of the lists of slaves, it is possible that the two are related and that some of these treatments might have been for slaves. This portion of the account book also bears a few notes on the plantation's sugar production. There are curious notes here and there that seem to hop back and forth in time, i.e. beneath an entry for 1824 about chickens and ducks, is an entry for 1831: "Mr. Baptiste Thibeau est venu travailler chez moi en qualite de gardinier."--Mr. Baptist Thibeau has come to work at my house as a gardener" and so forth. A fascinating glimpse into the workings of an early 19th-century Louisiana plantation.