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tline3open  Mr Fletcher writes his brother -- again

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Author Topic:   Mr Fletcher writes his brother -- again
wev
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Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 06-28-2005 08:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Either the gods are feeling most benevolent or I have some hidden cosmic power: in the last few months, in the stock of three different stamp dealers, I have stumbled upon 5 letters writ to or from Thomas Charles Fletcher of Philadelphia PA and his brother Henry of Louisville KY. The latest, from Thomas to Henry and dated 12 Nov 1840, is most interesting and involves their nephew, Calvin W. Bennett and the rights to some stock in hand. Here is a transcription. If there is interest, I will make some high resolution scans avaialable.

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Silver Lyon

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iconnumber posted 06-30-2005 03:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Silver Lyon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems likely to me that a small archive of Fletcher correspondence has come to light recently and been broken up amongst the 'stamp' community, who tend to concentrate on the covers not the content.
I suggest that it might be worth trying to track down the source as where these threee came from there are likely to be many others...
Are ANY of the dealers from whom you made purchases of the friendly sort who might help you on this quest?
Just a thought...

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wev
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iconnumber posted 06-30-2005 09:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had the same thoughts and queried the dealers, who were all quite friendly. Two had had the letters in stock for at least twenty years and had got them in bulk lots. This is typical of stampless covers; they are the plain downturned fiddleback of the stamp world, unglamourous and of small interest except to a few afficianados. There are some pricey rarities, but on the whole they are sold by the handful from dealer to dealer, collector to collector. Mine probably came from a big cache, bought when a bank or law office cleaned out the back room, and progressively broken into smaller lots as time went on.

Today, with stamp collecting declining and family history rising, many dealers are making much more selling based on content, rather than on the cover -- and not a few are cursing themselves for having thrown the bothersome text pages in the fire!

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wev
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iconnumber posted 06-30-2005 10:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While Mr. Fletcher wrote a fairly clear script, I am having trouble deciphering one word? sign? symbol? in the letter. It occurs in the rendering of his account:

1 doz. Table Spoons ??? shell wt. etc

and in the next line

1 " " " ??? only

"Shell" is obviously indicating the decoration on the spoon handle or bowl back, but what is ??? indicating?

I have scanned a large detail of the passage, which can be seen here

Any ideas?

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Silver Lyon

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iconnumber posted 06-30-2005 10:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Silver Lyon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sorry, I mis-read your query.
The ??? is an abbreviation of Thread
Thus he is selling 'Thread and Shell' (Thd) tablespoons and 'Thread only' tablespoons etc. This also explains a little the weights.
I have left my other comments and will be interested to hear what you think.

I suggest that the first column is the weight of metal employed. The ??? is an abbreviation of Making (Makg) - so either: 1) The account reads for the cost of the metal plus the manufacturing cost your ??? figures, the value of the metal is $1.25 per ounce, hence the math that makes the total. Then the extra $10 could be the estra profit at point of sale. or:
2) The other option, which I think is more likely is that the right hand totals are the "added value" or profit when the pieces were sold, the metal value including the cost of manufacture.
This can easily be checked by looking up what silver was going for per ounce as metal in 1840.
The extra $10 may just be for something quite different.
These were heavy spoons for USA at this period, do you think they could have been imports??


[This message has been edited by Silver Lyon (edited 06-30-2005).]

[This message has been edited by Silver Lyon (edited 06-30-2005).]

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wev
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iconnumber posted 06-30-2005 04:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Samefully dim of me -- of course you are right and it is Th for Thread. Thank you.

The extra 10 dollars was a later addition -- it and the new total are squeeze in, running over the * line and are writen with a different pen nib.

Import or domestic is an interesting question. It is worth noting that Thomas says ". . . at the same price as the cost to manufacture. . ." rather than their replacement or purchase cost, indicating that he, at least made such pieces and could price them out accordingly.

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Silver Lyon

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iconnumber posted 06-30-2005 06:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Silver Lyon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I take your point about implied ability to manufacture - I just can't think of many 'thread and shell' or 'thread' American-made tablespoons fron c.1840 that weigh some 3oz plus each or, worse even, dessert spoons at 2 oz plus. Can you?
Just to play devil's advocate perhaps it was because of their heavier weight that he was able to sell those spoons which he had to hand ahead of ones he would have had to make?
What fun your letters are.

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wev
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iconnumber posted 06-30-2005 06:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fun and more than a little frustrating! Where oh where is Henry's answer? What reply to the upstart Calvin and his demands? Was he pleased with Thomas dipping into his stock? And, if they were expensive imported goods, did he feel cheated by Thomas' reckoning at "local" manufacturing costs"?

Blast those stamp collectors.

[This message has been edited by wev (edited 06-30-2005).]

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Silver Lyon

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iconnumber posted 07-01-2005 06:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Silver Lyon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with wev - 1st.Mo was a normal way to start any business or official letter in USA well into the nineteenth century.
It is interesting to remember that the whole reason that the month is usually put first when writing dates in the USA, and nowhere else, is because the Capital was the Quaker city of Philadelphia until 1800.
Thus the Quaker methodology of 'First Month' etc. became the way of the whole nation. Quaker habits, but not necesarily Quakers.

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