Collection of Philadelphia merchants recordsCreation: 1750-1850
The Collection of Philadelphia merchants records comprises the papers of major and minor merchant houses in Philadelphia throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and primarily documents trade with major port cities in Western Europe and the West Indies. Included are the papers of merchants Andrew Clow & Co., Dutilh & Wachsmuth, Manuel Eyre, and George Louis de Stockar, along with records of other miscellaneous merchants from the Philadelphia area. The records include correspondence, accounts, bills, orders, invoices and other material that give insight into the rise of capitalism in the Early Republic.
- Creation: 1750-1850
- Andrew Clow & Co (Organization)
- Eyre, Manuel, 1777-1845 (Person)
- De Stockar, George Louis (Person)
- Dutilh & Wachsmuth (Philadelphia, Pa.) (Organization)
- Unknown (Organization)
10 Linear Feet
The Collection of Philadelphia merchants records documents the economic activities of merchants in Philadelphia in both the Revolutionary Period (circa 1765-1780) and the Early Republic (circa 1780-1830). The mercantile houses represented primarily include those founded by French and Quaker merchants conducting trade between major European, West Indian, and American port cities.
Andrew Clow & Co.
The Philadelphia mercantile firm of Andrew Clow & Company was active in the period after the close of the Revolutionary War. It conducted trade with Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, the West Indies and coastal ports south of Philadelphia. It exported flour, grain, sugar, tobacco, and other commodities and imported a wide variety of goods, especially textiles (including calico, chintz, sheeting, worsted and hosiery) from Great Britain, wine and brandy from France, and wine, raisins and almonds from Spain. Both Andrew Clow and his partner, David Cay, died in the great yellow fever epidemic of 1793.
Dutilh & Wachsmuth
The mercantile firm of Dutilh & Wachsmuth was established in Philadelphia in 1790 and was dissolved circa 1798.
Etienne Dutilh was born in France in 1748 and came to Philadelphia in 1783, after a career as a merchant in Rotterdam and London. Numerous members of the family were established as merchants in Holland, England, Smyrna, and the West Indies. E. Dutilh & Co. was established by 1784, trading primarily with the West Indies but also with Europe. John Godfried Wachsmuth was admitted to full partnership in 1790 under the style of Dutilh & Wachsmuth.
Wachsmuth seems to have had American connections, while Dutilh maintained the ties with Europe. Dutilh was away from Philadelphia a great deal, first at Cap Francois (1792-1793) and then in Holland (1793-1795), leaving the management of the Philadelphia house in the hands of Wachsmuth. Accounts for Dutilh & Wachsmuth continue through 1803, but the active partnership was apparently dissolved ca. 1798-1799. Wachsmuth then formed a partnership with John Soullier, an associate of Dutilh's, which continued through 1814. Dutilh anglicized his name to Stephen around 1804 and continued in business until his death in 1810. His widow married John G. Wachsmuth and raised Dutilh's three sons in his home at Germantown.
Manuel Eyre, a Philadelphia merchant of Quaker ancestry, was born in 1777. His father, Manuel Eyre, Sr. (1736-1805) was a shipwright in Kensington and a colonel in the Contintental Army. Eyre obtained his training in the counting house of Henry Pratt and Abraham Kintzing and in 1803 joined with Charles Massey, Jr. (b. 1778) to form the mercantile firm of Eyre & Massey, a partnership that lasted until Eyre's death in 1845.
The firm of Eyre & Massey owned over 20 vessels, ranging in size from ships to sloops, and traded around the world, mounting voyages to Europe, the Caribbean, South America, China, India and the Pacific Islands. Manuel Eyre also served on the Philadelphia City Council and was a founding director of the Schuylkill Navigation Company (1816) and the Second Bank of the United States (1816). After 1820 he gradually retired from active trading and devoted much of his time to agriculture. He owned two farms outside the city and three in Delaware. He was the founder of Delaware City, Del., at the mouth of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, buying the entire site in 1828, erecting public buildings and dividing it into lots.
George Louis de Stockar
George Louis de Stockar (d. 1793, also spelled Stokar) was a merchant from Schauffhausen, Switzerland who later opened mercantile houses in France and Philadelphia. Stockar appears to have been a merchant at Bordeaux as early as 1772 and primarily imported tobacco and sugar, and exported wine, glass, and other manufactured products. In 1781 he partnered with Jean Guillaume d’Eberz in the firm of De Stockar & d’Erbez at La Rochelle, France, and in 1788 he formed the firm of De Stockar & Compagnie at Nantes. Shortly thereafter, Stockar came to the United States and established a mercantile firm in Philadelphia, where he developed business ties with the firm of Dutilh & Wachsmuth. He died in Baltimore in 1793. Following his death, Stockar’s estate was administered by John G. Wachsmuth.
As an artificial collection composed of 22 different accessions, a new arrangment scheme was imposed during processing in the absence of usable original order. Any accessions that were previously processed were reprocessed, and any related accessions that had not yet been arranged were integrated with the reprocessed material to further contextualize the records. In doing so, the collection was organized into five separate series, each being arranged alphabetically by document type or by primary correspondent.
Scope and Content
The Collection of Philadelphia merchant records documents the operations of major and minor merchant houses in Philadelphia throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Included are the papers of merchants Andrew Clow & Co., Dutilh & Wachsmuth, Manuel Eyre, and George Louis de Stockar, along with records of miscellaneous merchants from the Philadelphia area and southeastern Pennsylvania in general. The records give insight into the rise of capitalism in the Early Republic through economic development that was largely controlled by merchants and financiers.
The records themselves document trade between Philadelphia and major European, West Indian, and American port cities, including those in the Netherlands, France, Spain, Haiti, Great Britain, and South America. They consist of letter books, journals, ledgers, correspondence, accounts, bills, orders, invoices, shipping papers, bills of exchange, insurance policies, and banking records. The trade documented in the records reflect a wide variety of commodities, such as sugar, cigars, coffee, indigo, flour, butter, wheat, lard, hides, cotton, silks, logwood, wine and brandy, glass, glassware, earthenware, candles, gloves, gunpowder, and even elephant tusks. Correspondence between merchants discusses factors such as pricing, trade routes, wages paid to laborers on ships, business relationships between merchants, and discussion of domestic and foreign economic policies effecting trade.
More detailed descriptions of the records of merchants and businesses represented within the collection can be found below under Series Descriptions and Inventories.
No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.
The records that make up this collection were purchased by Hagley Museum and Library from rare book and manuscript dealers in the Philadelphia region between 1964 and 1973. Originally, each collection was accessioned separately and 22 different collections were created. To better contextualize the records, this artificial collection was created from the original 22 collections. The manuscript numbers from which this collection was created include the following: 0095, 0470, 0650, 0656, 0706, 0720, 0907, 1003, 1063, 1097, 1120, 1125, 1140, 1144, 1197, 1215, 1220, 1247, 1303, 1329, 1332, 1369.
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Collection of Philadelphia merchants records
- Clayton J. Ruminski
- Description rules:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description:
- Script of description:
- Language of description note: