Manuscript Account Book of the Dry Goods Merchant Gardner Dennett.

[Standish, Maine]: 1844-1848.

Quarto (8.25 x 13 inches), 336 numbered pages. Marbled boards over half-calf; gilt-ruled spine. Pages hand-ruled in red. ~ An account book of a prosperous and well-stocked general store, with manuscript entries in chronological order, from the town of Standish, Maine. The first journal entries in the accounts (page 16) are headed "Standish, September 11, 1844”, and the final headed “Standish, May 13th, 1848”. The account book records daily sales and records customer names along with details of the purchases of foodstuffs, sewing supplies, building materials, various types of alcohol, spices and more. Specific items include: nails, powder, coffee, cambric, flannel, silk velvet, trimming for coat, raisins, ink, eggs, saleratus, butter, whiting, panes of glass, fish, Borax, tea, sugar, calico, ticking, tobacco, pepper, pork, crackers, oil, olive oil, ribbon, pork meal, antimony, turpentine, cayenne, pimento, wine, brandy, c. candy, chalk lime, beef stake, and iron. A wide variety of measurements are present, “ Bushel Corn”, "1 pt. N [New England] Rum”, “6 yards sheeting”, “25 #fish”, “ Bushel Oats”, “ oz. Nutmeg”, “1 Pair Calf Boots”, “1 qt Whiskey for Medicine”, “1 Gallon Molasses”, “1 Box Mustard”, “ 1 Qt. Gin”, and there are barrels, gills, cords, and so on. Some "finished" items, such as an almanac, boots, a padlock, matches, and a broom, are sold. The account names are mostly men, and include Benjamin Morton, Daniel Freeman, Samuel Phinney, Simeon Mansfield, Philbrisk B. Abbot, Seth Higgins, Moses L. Sanborn, Benjamin Meserve, and dozens more. School District No. 5 purchases a padlock and a broom. A copy of Mitchell's Geography is sold on June 2nd, 1847. It's notable that sometime in late 1846 or early 1847, sale of spirits now have the words "for medicine" appended. By 1848, the clarification has been dropped. Balances are kept and payments recorded, although not all clients paid with cash; a "Richard Whiswell" paid his debt for items including Castile soap and cassis by sawing wood and working in the garden on more than one occasion. A "J.G. Robinson" purchases a gallon of oil by bartering "1 pair women's shoes to be sold for 6/ or returned." Payment of an employee's wages (Daniel D. Lowell) are included (page 257), "By your services in my store one year from June 18, 1846 to June 18, 1847, $100.00". ~ While this account book bears no "title page", internal evidence supports the identity of the keeper of the records as Gardner Dennett (1822-1877) of Standish, Maine. A number of times, significant debits are made to pay a "balance of note". Each time, these are debits in the name of G. Dennett. Also, laid-in (page 267) is a receipt for building materials purchase elsewhere, naming Dennett as the buyer. Gardner is listed as “Trader” in a variety of contemporary lists, and became postmaster of Standish on August 22nd of 1847, during the period of accounts recorded here. Just a month before this account books ends, Gardner was one of the founding Trustees of the Standish Academy. "Mary Dennett" also appears regularly, both as a client and as a participant in the business. She was not, however, Gardner's wife (he married Eliza R. Howe October 19, 1836), but his mother, Mary [Lowell] Dennett. Standish, in Cumberland County, is about fifteen miles north of Portland. The town was settled by Massachusetts residents, and named in honor of Captain Myles Standish. ~ The first sixteen pages of accounts have been pasted over with newspaper clippings (circa late 1880's), the clippings forming more of a commonplace book than a cookery compilation. The clippings include a near full-page lithograph of the operatic soprano Clara Louise Kellogg, a lengthy depiction of the wedding of Daniel C. Thompson of Berwick to Dorcas Hayes of North Yarmouth, many poems, an engraving of the Hotel Del Monte in Monterey Ca., and a history of the Statue of Liberty (which provides a rough dating of the addition of the clippings, as the article states the "the Collosus to be unveiled to-day" – October 28, 1886). The manuscript is in remarkably good condition for a daily working document such as an account book, and is in a single, neat hand throughout, almost entirely legible. Some light stains or smudges, but nothing that is not evidence of use in the positive sense. The free front endpaper is missing a two-inch piece of the lower right corner; some offsetting from leather corners. Rubbed and somewhat soiled, the binding is blue marbled boards over half- plain calf, gilt-ruled at the spine. Some scuffing and chipping to spine leather. Laid-in are a number of pressed ferns. Good or a bit better. Still, overall, an attractive piece of evidence of the workings of a general store in the early years of it Maine’s statehood, and a document of various aspects of the food system of the time, including local and global distribution, labor, and shifting laws.

Price: $1,200.00