M. A. Howell billing Mr. Ward, May 3, 1854

1. "Martin A. Howell, Jr." - Martin was one of many Howells. In 1854 a Howell factory bought an 8-color printing machine from Waldron. Both companies were located in New Brunswick, New Jersey. But Martin Howell didn't stay in the East; he was one of the first in the trade to exploit westward expansion. He moved his showroom to State Street in Chicago and established a factory at Marseilles, Illinois, in 1869.

 

2. "5619", etc. - the purchase of four solitary rolls of border suggests that they were used for display. The hunch that Mr. Ward was stocking a retail store is reinforced by his bulk purchase of 150 rolls of sidewalls.

In numbering patterns American paperstainers followed a French tradition. But, short descriptions of the goods are often found on English bills.

 

3. "8" and "25" - the 150 rolls bought at the wholesale price of 8 cents per roll were dirt cheap and almost certainly ungrounded; the 14 rolls costing 25 cents were probably grounded and had a few colors; they may even have been satins.

 

4. "8/-" - the colonial shilling value of .125 cents (pieces of eight) was particularly strong in New York City, and persisted for a surprisingly long time, as did other shillings values. Bills counted out in shillings are found in the trade throughout the country and throughout the 19th century.

 

5. "$18.30 - .91 = $17.39" - a discount is given, presumably for cash at the point of sale. It's likely that 54 Maiden-Lane and 29 Liberty-Street in Manhattan were paper-hanging warehouses for goods coming from the New Jersey factories and imports from the docks. The discount of 5% is typical for commercial transactions but less common for retail sales.