J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2019

A New Owner at the Brazen Head

By 1756, Mary Jackson had been running her shop at the Sign of the Brazen Head in central Boston for over twenty years.

She had started as a suddenly widowed mother of two young children and for a few years had a male business partner, but then he died, too. For over a decade, Jackson had been the sole proprietor.

On 23 August, Mary Jackson’s Boston Gazette advertisement disclosed big news about the business. She had a new partner: her son William.

For folks who love historic hardware and retailing, here’s a full transcript of that ad. For anyone else, feel free to skip down to the discussion of the Jackson family.
Imported from LONDON and BRISTOL, and to be sold by
Mary and William Jackson,
At the Brazin-Head in Cornhill, by Wholesale and Retail. And as ready Money is a great Inducement, they will sell cheap for Cash. Viz.

BRASS kettles, skillets, warming-pans, frying-pans, iron dripping-pans, iron pots, kettles & skillets, powder, lead & shot of all sizes, London dishes, plates and cream-pots, spoons, pewter measures, porringers, bed and close-stool pans, turrenes, tea-kettles, & copper coffee-pots, kettle-pots, brass & copper sauce-pans, copper drinking pots, andirons, shovel and tongs, fire-pans, brass & iron candlesticks, iron chafin-dishes, flat-irons, skimmers, ladles, bellows & box-irons, nails, brads, tacks & hob nails of all sorts, coffin bullions, tin tax, double and single spring chest locks, stock locks, egg nob locks and other door locks, H & HL hinges, pew hinges, hooks and hinges, and garnets, chest hinges, door latches, compasses, hammers, firmers, gimblets, hand-saws, plows, hallow and rounds, sugars, rules, plastering & brick trowels, splinter and black pad-locks, brass nails, post pepper-mills, brass cocks, an assortment of files, desk & book-case furniture, viz. handles & scutcheons of various sorts, desk and book-case locks, book-case hinges, scutcheons and bolts, prospect hinges, schutcheons and locks, desk buttons, brass pins, clock case hinges, furniture for tea-chests, brass & iron table ketches, London glue, screws, brass & iron desk hinges, rule joint table hinges, square butts, dovetails, three barr’d, plain and crooked stirrup irons, women stirrup irons, white setts, black buckles, saddle heads, turf nails, bridle kitts, rings and staples, girt web, saddler’s billions, jobents, spurs, tinn’d curry-combs, &c. case-knives and forks, jack-knives & pen-knives, coat and sleeve buttons, swords & belts, brass and leather ink-pots, shoe & knee buckles, scissars & shears, London needles, pocket-compasses, ivory & horn combs, razors & hones, dutch spectacles, brass & iron thimbles, bath metal thimbles with steel tops, fountain pans, brass, iron, steel & japann’d snuffers, black glass necklaces, stay-hooks, snuff-boxes, powder-flasks, pewter tea-spoons, flints, money-scales and weights, jews-harps, fish-lines and hooks, gun-locks, an assortment of shoemakers tools, knives, hammers, sowing & pegging and blades, aul-hafts, rasps & knippers, tax, punches, spinnel, white wax, with a great variety of other London, Birmingham, and Sheffield cutlery wares.

Also, Good Connecticut PORK and BEEF.

N.B. Any Person in the Country, by sending a Letter, shall be as well used as if present themselves. Old Brass, Copper, Pewter, Lead and Bees-wax, will be taken in Exchange the same as Cash.
The timing of this advertisement raises a couple of questions. William made his debut in the very first installment of The Saga of the Brazen Head, when he was baptized on 13 July 1731 at King’s Chapel. That meant he came of legal age in 1752. But it took another four years before William’s mother made him her legal partner.

In fact, William arrival in the newspaper advertising coincided with his little brother James coming of age in the late spring of 1756. I’m not sure what to make of that. Was it just coincidence, or was Mary sorting out both her sons’ futures at once?

It also seems significant that Mary Jackson continued to be the senior partner in the family firm, her name listed first in the advertisements. Indeed, after 1758 the Brazen Head ads usually appeared under the name of “Mary Jackson & Son,” not even naming William.

TOMORROW: How was the younger James Jackson keeping busy?

[The photo above shows an HL hinge, courtesy of Williamsburg Blacksmiths.]


Mike said...

Notice to other readers: don't Google "square butts".

J. L. Bell said...

I was wondering about doing a post on all the unfamiliar terms in this ad, even that one. Perhaps we could all use some firmers.

Mike said...

I come from a long line of carpenters and woodworkers, and didn't know there were so many different kinds of hinges. It was like Bubba telling Forrest Gump about all the different ways to serve shrimp.

J. L. Bell said...

I think an ad like this must have been aimed at housewrights and carpenters, not laypeople.