Sep 30, 2021 - Sale 2580

Sale 2580 - Lot 159

Price Realized: $ 2,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 500 - $ 750
(MARYLAND.) Pair of tavern ledgers from Frederick County. [8], 41, [4]; [2], 45, 43, [2] manuscript leaves. 2 volumes. Folio, 16 x 6 1/4 inches, original 1/2 calf, minor wear; moderate dampstaining, occasional portions of pages cut out, McSherry's a bit bowed, Coale's lacking front free endpaper and leaf 7. Libertytown, MD, 1784-91

Additional Details

These two ledgers were kept by brothers-in-law Bernard / Barney McSherry (1764-1796) and Richard Coale (1760-1834), both of Libertytown in Frederick County, MD. Coale was married to McSherry's sister Catherine; their daughter married into the Sappington family (see lots 42, 160 and 229). The ledgers are identical in size and binding, cover largely overlapping time periods, and have very similar content: selling alcohol by the glass along with occasional other merchandise. McSherry's has a handful of cash journal and memoranda pages going back to 1784, with most of the ledger accounts running from April 1787 to June 1788. He sold grog, wine, hot toddy, cider, rum, and at least twice a "ticket to the show" (pages 7 and 12). Among his customers was Captain Ely Dorsey, who survived a British prison during the Revolution.

Coale's ledger is more wide-ranging, and divided into two sections. His original business was more like a general store which sold occasional liquor. In addition to rum, punch and brandy, he also sold textiles, tea, and sugar. A name index in the rear covers only the first section. His entries begin in November 1786 and the first section extends through October 1788. The second section is more of a pure tavern ledger, and runs from September 1788 to early 1791. In this rear section, liquor sales to "Abraham, negro" are recorded on page 7, and another customer is charged for "the hire of negro Peter" on page 24. Revolutionary War captains Lilburn Williams and William Lamar appear on page 19 and 21. Coale also included charges for dinners, suppers, "the Ball," and for a gaming club. For example, one man is charged on page 26 for "Club in grogg at ninepins" (an early form of bowling) and "Club at Cards." It would appear that perhaps Coale took over McSherry's tavern in mid-1788. The two men had accounts with each other (page 6 in McSherry's ledger, page 3 in Coale's).