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November 2017

Kennedy & Bragaw: English And American Hardware. Plane Makers

Kennedy & Bragaw: English and American Hardware, 203 Main Street, Hartford, Ct, July 1st, 1845.

This firm was in business from 1844-1846. Before the advent of bound catalogs, merchants marketed their goods through sheet listings such as this one. Easily folded for mailing, in this early case as a stampless letter, the listing doubled as a format for personal correspondence between the seller and the prospective buyer.

At the bottom of the sheet is a note: "Joiners Planes of our own Manufacture". The proprietors in question were Leonard Kennedy, Jr. and Isaac Bragaw. To my knowledge, no imprint has been recorded. If you have a plane marked by this merchant partnership, please come forward."

Download KennedyBragawCatLtr1


James Kellogg, Plane Maker Price List and Correspondence

James Kellogg, Plane Maker: Price List and Correspondence. Courtesy of Roger K. Smith, are two pieces of history from James Kellogg, the famous plane maker. The first is a stampless letter from Mr. Kellogg to Mr. H. Foster, agent for Mr. J. Daniel, concerning discount terms on an order of planes. The second is a photocopy of an early and unique Kellogg price list. While Roger does not remember from where he originally received the price list copy, if memory serves me right, I believe this is a photocopy of a Kellogg price list that was sold at a Spicer Auction in Rhode Island.

These two unique pieces of ephemera are offered in PDF format for easier reading

Download RSmithJKellogLtrCat1 (1)



Jessop Steel, New York City: Salesman Correspondence

Correspondence: Commercial, Traveling Salesman; Jessop Steel, M. Thornburn Correspondence 1848

MR. M. THORNBURN TO MR. Hy JESSOP OF NEW YORK CITY. Stampless letter, Providence, July 7, 1848. Composed in blue ink on pale blue paper. Before the advent of the postage stamp, the stampless letter was the only form available for sending correspondence through the mail service.

Henry Jessop was the son of William Jessop, founder of the Jessop Steel firm of Lancashire, England. In the 1830's William Jessop and Sons opened their own steel and iron foundry business. Thomas and Henry Jessop took responsibility for the commercial side of the enterprise while Montague and Sydney accepted responsibility for the foundry and production side. Jessop Steel did not open it's United States factory until the 1860's. Prior to this, traveling salesmen such as Mr. Thornburn represented the business' interests. Henry Jessop died in 1849.

This piece of correspondence between Henry Jessop and M. Thornburn is a wealth of detail, both explicit and implied. The competition for dominance in the iron and steel industry is evident. Mr. Thornburn has some success but at other times he is faced with the problems of inadequate goods or local competition. Unfriendly buyers leave him annoyed and frustrated. The Mexian-American War ended in February of 1848. Mr. Thornburn was attempting to expand his customer base at a time when funds where in short supply.

The original document and a full transcription of the text.

Download JessopthornburnMAN

Download ThorburnjesssopManTrans


W. A. Ives Mfg. Co. Mephisto Auger Bits

Envelope: IVES MFG CO., MEPHISTO AUGER BITS. Jan. 7, 1913. "It looks as if it would bore, doesn't it?". I'm not sure what this small envelope was meant for. My best guess is contained some product information. It's a bit too small for use as a mailing envelope, but an envelope it is. Any guesses?


Eagle Square Mfg. Co. Carpenters Squares and Boring Machines

EAGLE SQUARE MFG. CO. MANUFACTURERS OF CARPENTERS' SQUARES AND BORING MACHINES. South Shaftsbury, Vt., May 4th, 1912. Estimate from F. L. Mattison for filing a saw. This billhead notes "House building materials and brush handles of all kinds" are sold in addition to their well known carpenters squares.


The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Online Translation - University Of Michigan

University Of Michigan Library Diderot Online


For your reading pleasure, The University Of Michigan has kindly hosted an ongoing French to English translation of the famous Diderot & d'Alembert Encyclopedia of EveryThing Known To Man (sic). I recommend using the Browse By Plates until you are comfortable with the deep search functions.

UMich Diderot Browse By Plates

W. O. Hickok Manufacturers of Book Binding Tools and Machinery. Trade catalog and Letterhead

Hickok Bookbinders' Machinery: Bookbinders' Tools. Catalogue No. 88. The W. O. Hickock Manufacturing Company, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. c1920. From the famous Hickok Mfg. company, makers of bookbinding equpment since 1844, comes a rare catalog. Judging by the early electric tools, I'm guessing at a c1920 date, but it could be a bit earlier. Nearly out of business at this point, their products remain sought after by bookbinders.

Download HickokCatc1920 (1)


Letterhead: W. O. HICKOCK. Eagle Works, Improved Book Binders Machinery, iron and Brass Foundries, Wood Turning, Ruling Machines, Steam and Gas Fitters Supplies, General Machine Works, Keystone Cider Mills, Keystone Feed Cutters. Harrisburg, Pa, U. S. A., April 16, 1886.

To: New Urbana Wine Co... "Gentlemen: Have you old Dry Catawba wines and at what price per two or three dozen quarts." Apparently this was a thirsty bunch. W.O. Hickock is still in business as a machinery manufacturer.


S. Hills and F. Richards, Planemakers of Norwich, Massachusetts. 1833 Price List

Price List : Catalogue and Invoice Prices of Carpenters' Bench, and Moulding Planes, Manufactured by S. Hills, and F. Richards, Norwich, Mass. Jan. 23, 1833. Before there were bound trade catalogs, the typical catalog was a single sheet price list of goods offered. Before the single sheet price list, the trade card often served... but I don't have one of those early ones to show you. Yet.

This is the earliest price list/catalog in my personal collection. It's of particular interest in that it's a plane makers price list from a lesser known maker of Massachusetts. To add to the interest, it was sent not in an envelope, but by itself. Before postage stamps were the norm, the sender folded up a piece of paper to a given size, wrote the 'To' and 'From' on the outside and paid for the service. In some cases, the recipient had to pay for the service.

This price list/catalog was issued by Hills & Richards, one of the many partnerships of the Hills bros', Samuel and Hervey of Amherst, Springfield and Norwich, Massachusetts. The Hills worked during the early part of the 19th C. Frederick Richards has been listed as a planemaker, toolmaker and hardware dealer. In the 1850 Census, he was listed as employed by H. Chapin as a toolmaker.

From the primary resource for wooden planes of the United States, A Guide to the Makers of American Wooden Planes, we have a brief review of these makers:

  • Samuel Hills: Amherst & Springfield, MA: 1830
  • Samuel and Hervey Hills, succeeding Hills & Wolcott: Amherst, MA: 1829-1830
  • Hills & Richards: Norwich, MA: 1833 (date now known from this catalog)
  • Hills & Winship (William Winship worked for H. Chapin, 1826-1832): Springfield, MA: 1832
  • Hills & Wolcott (possibly Gideon Wolcott, a planemaker who worked for Leonard Kennedy): So. Amherst, MA: 1829
  • Frederick Richards: Springfield, MA: 1833-1850



18th Century Ligatures: Everything you might possibly have wanted to know. Or not.

Ligatures. The word strikes fear in the hearts of authors, proof readers, editors and printers. For those of us whose brains live in the past, ligatures are our daily bread.


Luckily for us, David Manthey published an excellent work on 18th century ligatures and fonts:

The html version is less than satisfactory. Mr. Manthey has generously provided a downloadable pdf on that page. You may also download it from this post:

Download Ligature

If you pass this pdf along to others, please be sure to give David Manthey full credit for his work.

Till next, Gary