Book 2-another look through the window of time

Lychnobius

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This is most exciting. Even the briefest of glances (all I have had time for as yet) shows a letter of 1838 giving the prices (presumably trade prices) charged by M. I. Tobias to an importer in Philadelphia for nine movements, with their jewel counts and serial numbers. How often does one encounter information of this kind? Once again Allan has placed us deeply in his debt.

Oliver Mundy.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Thank you, Oliver, for the kind words, sometimes, like this, research pays off, but to be honest the credit goes to Rich Newman and Philip Poniz who fought they way through a jungle of red tape to get permission for it to be published on here. If only one person enjoys this, and I am sure there will be many more, then we are pleased too. I look forward to your comments and thoughts on the letters Oliver.

Best Regards,
Allan.

R. Newman Postscript: Special thanks to The Winterthur Library: Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, Document 499. Winterthur holds a wonderful collection of clocks, watches, and one of the premier clock maker tools collections from the Dominy clock making family. Winterthur has been great partners of the NAWCC over the years, and was also the location for the 2016 NAWCC Ward Francillon Time Symposium (lectures are on the website under Research / NAWCC Digital Video Archive).
 

JTD

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It is indeed wonderful that these letters have been preserved and thanks is due to the OP for presenting them for future reference.

I know from long experience how difficult it can be to transcribe old letters and as one or two parts of the first letter were not very clear, I am attaching below my own transcription of that letter. It differs only slightly from that posted by the OP but perhaps may clarify one or two points.

Dear Sir, Jany. 20th 1835

The watch which you have lately taken apart & cleaned |made by L. Mallet| was purchased by me many years since at what I have considered a very great price - viz. Three hundred Dollars. I think it possible I may be induced to part with this watch and I should like to be able to say in what manner this watch differs from others so as to make its cost so much exceed the ordinary price of even fine watches. You will therefore much oblige me if you will add at the foot of this letter any observations on the subject which your very close examination of it has enabled you to do. My own knowledge of these matters amounts to nothing, all I know of the watch is that is cost the above sum here and was invoiced at fifty Louis D'ors and has been for the 20 years I have worn it a first rate time piece.

Yours respt. [respectfully]
Yr. ob. Svt. [your obedient servant]
J. McMurtree

Mr. W.H.C. Riggs
Watch Maker, So. Front Street,
Phila.

(A Louis D'or was a French gold coin.)

I hope this transcription may be of help and/or interest.

JTD
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Since JTD, wrote the above we have corresponded by email. He wanted me to send him enlarged photographs of the letters, which I did offer to members. So over the time in between July and now JTD has taken the time to address the missing or misunderstood words in the letters. I don´t think yet that they are complete, but very near. All the mistakes are mine, as usual. Members are welcome to make comments, and I for one would like to know more about the boat in the last letter.

[pdf]608341[/pdf]
 

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LloydB

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Feb 24, 2006
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It is indeed wonderful that these letters have been preserved and thanks is due to the OP for presenting them for future reference.

I know from long experience how difficult it can be to transcribe old letters and as one or two parts of the first letter were not very clear, I am attaching below my own transcription of that letter. It differs only slightly from that posted by the OP but perhaps may clarify one or two points.

Dear Sir, Jany. 20th 1835

The watch which you have lately taken apart & cleaned |made by L. Mallet| was purchased by me many years since at what I have considered a very great price - viz. Three hundred Dollars. I think it possible I may be induced to part with this watch and I should like to be able to say in what manner this watch differs from others so as to make its cost so much exceed the ordinary price of even fine watches. You will therefore much oblige me if you will add at the foot of this letter any observations on the subject which your very close examination of it has enabled you to do. My own knowledge of these matters amounts to nothing, all I know of the watch is that is cost the above sum here and was invoiced at fifty Louis D'ors and has been for the 20 years I have worn it a first rate time piece.

Yours respt. [respectfully]
Yr. ob. Svt. [your obedient servant]
J. McMurtree

Mr. W.H.C. Riggs
Watch Maker, So. Front Street,
Phila.

(A Louis D'or was a French gold coin.)
I hope this transcription may be of help and/or interest.
JTD
That's quite close, I believe... but, at the last
(and, likely, unimportantly):

Very respectfully yours etc (abbreviated and hastily penned)
JMcMurtrey

(The above phrasing was employed in the 1700's,
and at least through the American Civil War period.)
 

Rich Newman

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One letter from R & A Campbell, Baltimore dated October 1844 complains about the difficulty getting movements cased. Apparently, the demand for case work has gotten so high that his (unnamed) case maker(s) in New York has fallen behind and they have arranged for additional cases to be made in Philadelphia. As a side note, there is very long history of case makers working in America that goes back to the early 18th century. Catherine Hollan's book on Philadelphia silversmiths lists over 200 case makers working in Philadelphia alone from 1785 to 1861.
 

LloydB

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The next edition will be out soon. Thank you for the observation. Has always nice to hear from you Lloyd.

Allan
Cheers, Allan.

I'd resolved NOT to re-read any of these this morning,
with so much else to do... and promptly spent another
hour. Now it's afternoon and I need to catch up!

The final paragraph of the [ Isaac Reed ] letter begins as
follows: "You will confer upon us a favour by informing... "

The next edition will be out soon. Thank you for the observation. Has always nice to hear from you Lloyd.

Allan
 

Allan C. Purcell

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"You will confer upon us a favour by informing... "
The interest in these letters grows, I do hope that one day they will be complete, though I have to say JTD, LloydB, and others have brought them very close to completeness. The last letter still keeps me awake at night. I had thought the Concordia was the ship they were talking about. but the research by JTD proves the letter says "Cambria". The Concordia fits the dates and the story, so I am off to find a Cambria in American waters at that time.

Cambria, Anchor Line

Allan.

[pdf]609085[/pdf]
 

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LloydB

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[snipped]
but the research by JTD proves the letter says "Cambria".
Allan. [pdf]609085[/pdf]
The last letter is dated early May 1846
No doubt it reflects the incident mentioned below:

Cambria -- Cunard Line (Wikipedia)

Cambria[edit]
Cambria was the replacement for the wrecked Columbia.
She held the Blue Riband for the fastest westbound Atlantic

voyage from July 1845 until America won the record in
June 1848. Cambria grounded on Cape Cod in April 1846,
but was towed off. She was to be replaced by Arabia in 1852,
but was retained when Arabia’s sister was sold before
completion. After serving as a trooper in the Crimean War,
Cambria was briefly placed back on the Boston service until
Persia was commissioned. Cambria went into reserve except
for charter to the European and Australian Royal Mail Company.
In 1860, Cambria was sold to Italian owners and served in the
Italian Navy until scrapped in 1875.[1]
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Cambria was the replacement for the wrecked Columbia.
She held the Blue Riband for the fastest westbound Atlantic

voyage from July 1845 until America won the record in
June 1848
That is how they say- great work Lloyd. Sorted out that little problem nicely. ( I will now go back to 1775-Prescot)

Thanks again,

Allan
 

LloydB

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A quick correction... Cambria's 'beaching'
(according to period sources) occurred on
Saturday May 2nd, just before midnight.
It was towed off Cape Cod after two days,
and arrived at its destination the following
Saturday.

The Farr letter is dated only four days after
Cambria's recovery, and before there could
have been public notice in Philadelphia.
 
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