Monday, August 20, 2012

Accounts of Account Books

It is of constant amazement when examining artifacts, how certain things beat the odds and end up surviving.  You can understand the fancy gown, quilted petticoat, or paste buckle, but less sexy items, like an account book with its pages and pages of script,  how does that make it thru 248 years of attic clean outs, not to mention silverfish, water, mold and a host of other enemies that destroy books?

Well, thank goodness these things do find a way of surviving the centuries because they are a treasure trove of information! We recently spent a day at the Newport Historical Society examining just such a gem -- the account books of James Gould, an eighteenth century tailor from Newport, Rhode Island.  Over the next several months, we are planning on a closer examination of these books as well as other account books from New England, to obtain a better understanding of what tailors were making, who they were sewing for, what materials they were using, how much things cost, and a whole host of other data.  We're in the process of sorting through what we transcribed in order to organize the information and we are looking forward to sharing that with you.  In the meantime, here are some interesting tidbits from the accounts:

Broadcloth was incredibly expensive!

February 27, 1772  -- 4 1/2 yards superfine broadcloth 180 pounds.
February 8, 1771 --  1/2 yard of broadcloth 30 pounds.

A comparison of labor vs materials.

 "A "Sute of Clos" cost between 32-34 pounds for the making.

Mr. Gould charged 7 pounds (very consistently) to make breeches, unless they were for a "Negro", in which case the cost was 5 pounds 10 shillings.  Why?  A simpler garment?  Possibly.

Sea Captains paid cash, and promptly as well.  One could speculate that Captains were awash in funds when they hit the shops!

Next: When is a jacket not a jacket?

1 comment:

  1. No pockets in the negro breeches? Knee bands that tied only?