Museum - Manufacturers & Merchants
Correspondence: Commercial, Traveling Salesman
MR. M. THORNBURN TO MR. Hy JESSOP OF NEW YORK CITY. Stampless letter, Providence, July 7, 1848. Composed in blue ink on pale blue paper. Before the advent of the postage stamp, the stampless letter was the only form available for sending correspondence through the mail service.
Henry Jessop was the son of William Jessop, founder of the Jessop Steel firm of Lancashire, England. In the 1830's William Jessop and Sons opened their own steel and iron foundry business. Thomas and Henry Jessop took responsibility for the commercial side of the enterprise while Montague and Sydney accepted responsibility for the foundry and production side. Jessop Steel did not open it's United States factory until the 1860's. Prior to this, traveling salesmen such as Mr. Thornburn represented the business' interests. Henry Jessop died in 1849.
This piece of correspondence between Henry Jessop and M. Thornburn is a wealth of detail, both explicit and implied. The competition for dominance in the iron and steel industry is evident. Mr. Thornburn has some success but at other times he is faced with the problems of inadequate goods or local competition. Unfriendly buyers leave him annoyed and frustrated. The Mexian-American War ended in February of 1848. Mr. Thornburn was attempting to expand his customer base at a time when funds where in short supply.
I'm still researching the various names and connections noted in this manuscript. As I turn up more information, it will be added to this page.