Tag Archive | 1770s

Salem Shopping in 1774

I’ve been having more fun going through old presentation and research files that I mentioned in an earlier post. This post will be short (on pictures) and sweet (on shopping wishlists) as I share three fabulous advertisements from 1774 editions of the Essex Gazette. Oh, to have a time machine and go back to do some shopping!

John Appleton May 3 1774

Excerpt from Essex Gazette, May 3, 1774

First up… the offerings of John Appleton at his store in Salem. Appleton advertised wares as early as 1768 in the same newspaper. This particular advert has quite the listing, including:

Calicoes and Patch… striped linen for jackets, taffeties … padusays… blue, green and cloth-coloured damasks, … Long lawn, cambricks, Plain and flowered lawns, Lawn aprons, diapers … Cardinal silk … Cotton velvits, …Silk ferrets … Stay trimmings… Women’s English & Lynn shoes … and fish-hooks.

According to the advert, these goods were recently imported from London, and are listed as ‘A fine Assortment of English, India, Irish & Scotch Goods, at the very lowest Rates.’ The image scan is a bit too fuzzy to make out the spelling of every item but one can get a sense of the breadth of variety without knowing the specifics. (And for the record I now want a Cardinal silk cloak… because why not?)

Next up is and advertisement from the following week, May 10-17, 1774. This time we can see the offerings of Nath’l Sparhawk… which is just the best name ever for a shop owner!

Nathaniel Sparhawk May 10 1774

Excerpt from Essex Gazette, May 10, 1774

He had advertised Beavers and Bohea (among other items) in January of the same year but in May was running a much longer column. His goods were coming from London and Bristol and I found it interesting that he named the specific Captains who made the journey. I’m also curious that he sells by wholesale and retail at his ‘CHEAP STORE in King-Street, SALEM, a few Doors above the Custom-House.’ Was cheap a favorable way to describe a shop? Curious minds are wondering but have no answers… yet.

Sparhawk offers many items in common with Appleton, but a few differences can be found including the following:

…changeable lutestrings, black ditto … Quality shoes & coat bindings, Gold and silver Prussian ditto … Children’s red Morocco leather shoes … Black and white whimsey caps, with cords … Plain and flower’d serges … Black and white spider-net, Queens’ gauzes … Black and white catgut … Women’s white and glazed and unglazed kid gloves & mitts … and Coffee.

More than a few interesting items in the Sparhawk list! If I’m transcribing it correctly, whimsey caps (with cords of course) are by far the most curious to me. I’ve not done much serious 18th century fashion research in a number of years so it could be that this is a wildly popular and well-known term. However, it’s new to me and I love the idea of purchasing such an item to wear, just so I could ask for it out loud.  In other adverts, Sparhawk lists them with children’s items and in one case, specifically calls them Children’s Whimsey Caps so it could just a youthful garment – more’s the pity!

Excerpt from Essex Gazette, December 27, 1774

Excerpt from Essex Gazette, December 27, 1774

Last but not least we jump to the end of year for a December 1774 advert, this time provided by George Dublois. Like Appleton, Dublois had been advertising since at least 1768. Many of his goods are the same as the other shops – checks, linens, broad-cloths, camblets, stockings, and the like seem to be common to just about every ad for English (and Irish, Indian, and European) Goods of the period.

A few new additions to this particular set of three listings includes:

… Bath Frizes … knit breeches Patterns … Hatter’s Trimmings of all sorts … crimp and common cap Wire … letter’d and other Gartering, … and velvit Corks.

Velvit corks? Um, okay. A quick googling shows that to be a high quality type of cork. Who knew?

There’s more than a few terms that I’d love to look into more as time allows. But once again, the hour grows late today and I’ll have to save those efforts for another day. Until then, I’ll be having dreams of cap wire and whimsy caps and flowered serges and striped linen jackets… with a few velvit corks and fish hooks thrown in for good measure!


Blast from the past… 1770s style

Antique Nanking ware platter from Kovels.com. Mine is almost as fabulous!

Antique Nanking ware platter from Kovels.com. Mine is almost as fabulous!

Long story short (which is not one of my strengths…) I found myself at the Rebecca Nurse Homestead in Danvers, Massachusetts earlier today. A small revolutionary war encampment was happening and I went to meet the owner of The Georgian Kitchen. Sadly, I didn’t get to sample any food (total fail on my part not his!) but it did look delicious and I did snag some stunning Nanking ware platters and dessert plates.

This was my first visit back to the 1770s in quite a few years, and while I can’t be sure, I think it’s been nearly seven years since I last visited this particular historic site. As a super-involved RevWar reenactor from 1999 through 2009-ish, I spent many weekends at places like the Homestead. Being there on a beautiful day like today, it’s easy to recall many of the memories I created over the years and I have to admit that I still miss parts of the hobby.

One of things I miss most is teaching and presenting clothing workshops – I love seeing the look on someone’s face when they have an a-ha! moment in the midst of learning a new technique or when a smile pops up while modeling a new gown.

As I looked through my computer files for photographs of events in Danvers, my search came up empty but I did stumble upon a two presentations I gave related to 1770s clothing in Danvers. So instead of pretty event photos, I’m sharing some facts, figures, and what-nots from those notes. Without further ado…

danvers clothing 2007

While the talk was originally 90 minutes or so, I’m cherry picking some of my favorite bits and pieces here, including this unusual portrait of Nancy Bezoil Lane and one of her children. According to the notes I copied at the time, the auction site (F.O. Bailey) that sold the painting had the following to say:

Nancy Bezoil Lane and fifth child by Benjamin Blyth, 1781.

Nancy Bezoil Lane and fifth child by Benjamin Blyth, 1781.

A fine 18th C portrait of Nancy Bezoil Lane (Mrs. Nicholas Lane) and her 5th child (mother of 13 children) of Salem, Mass., in the manner Joseph Badger, from the Frothingham/ Smith family who have resided in Wayne, Maine since the early 1900’s;


There was one item in the sale that might have escaped unheralded but for a few bidders in the know. It was a large oil on canvas with its subjects identified through family history as Nancy Bezoil Lane and her fifth child of Salem, Massachusetts. Later information dug up revealed that her husband, Nicholas, was a sailmaker. The consigning family was from Wayne, Maine, and represented the Smith side of the Smith/Frothingham connection to the famous furniture makers of Massachusetts.

Apparently, the double portrait was misattributed. Listed as “in the manner of Joseph Badger,” at least two knowledgeable bidders blew off the Badger connection and proceeded on their own knowledge. The winner at $32,480 was dealer Marvin Sadik of Scarborough, Maine, who was dead certain that the artist was actually Benjamin Blyth (baptized 1746-after 1786).

He affirmed later: “There’s a lot of information on [Blyth] in the Massachusetts Historical Society…I’ve had it cleaned, and it looks terrific, and the woman has a wonderful coiffure. It was painted in 1780. We found that out by checking her birth date. It was in Salem.” He later added, “She’s sitting in a Chippendale chair, and the baby is holding a teething ring. I just got it back from the conservator…There are only about three known oil portraits by Blyth, so cleaned up it looks wonderful.”

Sadik referred to a very similar painting in Nina Fletcher Little’s Paintings by New England Provincial Artists 1775-1800 on page 55. “The painting is quite similar to mine of Mrs. Benjamin Moses, virtually the same size as mine, painted by Blyth in 1781, and it is in the Essex Institute in Salem, Massachusetts, and that is evidence enough for me.“

What is perhaps most interesting is that according to the Gloucester & Salem Vital Records books, Nancy’s husband Nicholas was a sailmaker and they married and lived first in Gloucester before moving to Salem, a major port town adjacent to Danvers. The portrait is a great pictorial example of what clothing was being worn by the middling sort and when combined with newspapers from the time, we start to get a more accurate sense of what was being worn in the area.

Although Danvers was primarily a farming community, its proximity and connection to the larger prosperous town of Salem would have exposed many residents to range of goods and services. And even Danvers had its own shops that catered to the fashion needs of the residents.

Here are a few of the listings that were included in the original presentation:

Date Shop Name Owner Business Location
1768 No info Nathan Andrews Cordwainer Unknown
1768 King’s Head Tavern William Jones Tavern Rd fr. Boston to Salem
1768 Bake House Benjamin Pickman, Esq. (of Salem) To be let Near new mills
1769-70 The Bell Inn Francis Symonds Selling India & English good; Entertainment for Man and Horse Near Salem
1774 No info Jeremiah Page Store & Shop adjoining to be let 1 m. east of Mr. P’s Tavern
1774 Mr. P’s Tavern Mr. P______ Tavern 1 m. west of J. Page
1774 Unnamed Joseph Jackson Assortment of English Goods, suitable for all seasons Opp. Capt. Page’s
1769-74 Unnamed William Pool Gloves, Leather Breeches, etc A little below Bell Tavern

Phew! The midnight hour is creeping upon us once again and while it would be lovely to add some more portraits and pretty dresses… that will just have to wait for another post. Happy stitching my friends… and for those that like the challenge of research, I hope you enjoy these little tidbits!

Update: Oops! My bad… this post was totally inspired by the Day 4 CoBloWriMo prompt: Write about a recent event you’ve been to or trip you’ve taken.