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Nathaniel Richards ledger


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

This ledger was probably kept by Nathaniel Richards, an early metalworker in Wilmington, Delaware. Richards' clients included many tradesman and prominent citizens operating in Wilmington and New Castle, Delaware, during the colonial and early national period, including John Janvier, Israel Brown, Obidiah Dingee, Joseph Shipley, John Stow, Joseph Shallcross, Samuel Paxson, Vincent Gilpin, John Hayes, and many others. Shallcross was a miller, West Indian trader, and eventually mayor of Wilmington. Janvier was a civic leader in New Castle, noted banker, and president of the New Castle Turnpike and Railroad Company.

Information derived from the collection.

This ledger was likely kept by Nathaniel Richards, a metalworker and retailer in Wilmington, Delaware, to record the sale of hardware between 1779 and 1790.

In this ledger, Richards recorded his merchandise sales and business expenditures. Most of the entries date from July 1779 to 1781, but Richards recorded the payment of debts through 1790. Richards kept accounts with many prominent Delaware merchants and businessmen, including Israel Brown, Samuel Paxson, Joseph Shipley, Vincent Gilpin, Joseph Shallcross, John Janvier, and Cyrus Newlin. Richards' transactions with Israel Brown were extensive and suggest that Brown was retailing some of his merchandise. Richards recorded sales of various items, including bellows, saw files, trunk nails, padlocks, spoons, screws, brass knobs, hinges, latches, castings, and penknives. He also kept accounts of merchandise and cash sales, hard money spent and received, and bonds held. Richards also seems to have conducted extensive business with one of the local mills, as shown by an account labeled "Mill in Company." On the final page of his accounts, Richards noted that he delivered goods to David Ferris's daughters in partial payment for renting Ferris's store from July 1779 to November 1780.

This volume is bound in brown leather with tooled lines and decorative borders on the front and back covers. A handwritten inscription in black ink on the front pastedown reads "Ledger A/Anno Domini 1779." The ledger contains thirty-eight leaves of laid paper with vertical columns with handwritten text in black ink; the remaining two hundred and thirteen leaves are blank. The paper features the "Maid of Dort" watermark, consisting of the inscription "Pro Patria" and the maid of Holland seated within a palisade holding a hat on the point of a spear. Also inside the palisade is a Dutch lion rampant with a sabre in its right forepaw and a brace of seven arrows in its left forepaw. A liberty bell hangs from the gate of the palisade.

Item 0151: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0096

Purchase, May 2016

Processed by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, December 2017.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2017 December 21
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Nathaniel Richards ledger, 1779-1790 (1779-1781).
Item 0151

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