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man of the same kind chosen on my part, may settle the
terms between them by common consent.

" Should you incline that way, I request you will inform
me thereof, as I do not want for applications, and should

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13^6 to give you the preference, if not against my personal 1807.

*' I am, Sir,

"Your obedient servant,

"Charg6 des Affaires

" For Denmark.
" Mr. Edwd. Thomason,


In 1807 there was the greatest difficulty with com-
mercial men to obtain change in silver, but particularly
in copper, to pay the work-people their wages. During
the year, I put up machinery for the manufacturing of
tokens or coins, because the distress and annoyance were
80 great with the manufacturers, that many principal esta-
blishments were determined to pass their own tokens of
copper, and some of silver, and made payable at their own
works, sooner than that their workmen should attend in
dozens at a puMic house to obtain change. I first manufac-
tured one for my own establishment \ but it was found so
troublesome, when they were delivered in twenty shillings
worth for payment, that in less than six months all were
melted down, except in the iron districts, which con-
tinued for twelve months longer, particularly at Mr.
Fereday^s works, which tokens of one penny were manu-
factured by me to the amount of from £5,000 to £10,000,
and for different establishments in Wales ; and at about
this period I received an order from the African Com-
pany in London to make the silver coinage for Africa.

In 1806, Sir Samuel Auchmuty captured Montevideo,

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1807. at the mouth of the River Plata, by storm; and he
addressed a letter to " the Mayor of Birmingham,*' (the
principal Magistrate being then, however, only " High
Bailiff'') recommending the manufacturers to take
advantage of the new opening offered as an outlet for
their hardware goods ; and stated that what few hard-
wares were to be seen there sold at a quadruple price,
owing to their being obliged to pass through old Spain,
and to be entered as Spanish manufactures. The excite-
ment which this opening caused throughout the town
was extreme, inasmuch as Government expressed their
determination to support the station so contiguous to the
great commercial city of Buenos Ayres.

Almost every manufacturer prepared to speculate, and,
supposing that every unfashionable article of their stock
would there find a purchaser at some remunerating price,
and as General Whitelock was ordered to proceed with
a large army to establish our claim to Paraguay, all was
bustle for some months in cleaning up old stock, so that
one half of the articles sent were ill assorted, and not at all
adapted for the climate or the wants of the people. My
speculation was very trivial. I had a pair of dies
engraved j on the obverse was Joseph, Mary, and the
Child, with appropriate legends in the Spanish language ;
and I sent 5,000 medals, ready ringed, adapted for the
natives to suspend round their necks. The fleet of ships
of war and of merchant vessels only arrived, however,
to witness a most disgraceful capitulation. There
. was one clause in the treaty, and only one, that was
favourable to the consigners — that six weeks should be
given to the merchants and their supercargoes to dispose
of their consignments, without molestation, in the town
of Buenos Ayres. This period was a contracted short

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time even to unship the cargoes, consequently it was 1807.
supposed that one-fifth of the consignments came hack
again, with all the appended expenses and charges of insu-
rance, freight, &c., to the utter ruin of hundreds.

There was one person, ahsolutely, who consigned 300
warming pans to a country where every one called out
for ice instead of caloric The consignee not heing ahle
to get one purchaser, was driven to hegin to repack,
when, accidentally, a Brazilian sugar -maker noticed
them, and, considering that they were an improved invent-
tion upon the ladle to lift out the saccharine juice of
the sugar-cane from the boiler, he bought the whole,
realizing a large profit to the consigner. There was
another solitary instance of success to a Birmingham
speculator in broad-cloths. The draper had already
realized a fortune, and had, as usual, on the approach of
retiring, began to sell his stock off at prime cost, and it
struck him that nothing was so likely to clear his ware-
house and shop at once, as to send the whole upon a
speculation to Buenos Ayres. However, to make the
consignment of more importance, he went to every
draper's shop, and purchased every remnant which they
possessed at half price. The agent, or young man,
whom he sent with these goods, happily got them landed
early, but could not find a wholesale purchaser for a
day or two, and, perceiving that, if the goods were un-
packed, he might sell a good deal piece-meal, he took a
a large room, which was hourly thronged with little
customers to buy from one to two yards; he sold the
yrhole of the consignment, realizing a profit for his
employer of £10,000. The agents for the extensive
consigners, not choosing to stoop to such degradation,
had to carry back to England their consignments, as

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1807. well as my 5,000 medals, which were immediately con-
signed to the melting pot for resuscitaiion I

At this period I turned my attention to a thought
which struck me about gaining some mechanical power
and convenience, with the assistance of a boy, to turn
the lever only of a cock.

I made a small model, which seemed to act Admit-
ting that the spring land, near which the machine was
erected, was higher than the machine itself, the water,
in rising up the iron pipe, T, would force open the valve,

B, and would push up the piston, P ; the rope of the
piston, P, would allow the descent of the valve. A, from
the top of the tube, X, to the situation of the place where
it now stands in the corresponding iron tube, X, as at D,
in the drawing ; and, at this moment, the connecting
iron rod of the valve, V, would be opened by the radius
formed by the pulley, L, which would allow the water
in the pipe, T, to syphonize, and stand in the pipe, X,
upon a level with it. A boy must now turn the cock,

C, which, with the same motion, instantly shuts the
connecting valves, V and B, and allows all the water in
the iron tube, from the valve to the piston, P, to run off.
The water in the iron tube, X, syphonized upon the
wheel, W, from whence a spindle was attached to turn
machinery. The boy now turned the cock, C, to shut
V, but to open valve B, when the iron tubes are again
filled, and in this way continued their action.

It was found not to answer, upon two mechanical
principles : first, the action of the rising and the dis-
charge of the water became sluggish, and it is an axiom,
that whatever you gain in time, you lose in power ;
what, in mechanics, is clearly proved, " that a double
velocity in the same given time, in the same circle, ba-

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lances a quadruple power of gravity.** Thus about £100 1807.
was lost ; but it called to my recollection an observation
made by the celebrated James Watt, when I was in his
study one day. The foreman came to him, with a long
face, and said, " Sir, we have, after some days* labour,
tried the experiment you desired, but the lever will not
act, and no steam comes out** " Well, Daniel,** an-
swered the great mechanician, ** this is a point gained.
We now know that the thought wiU not succeed.**

In 1807, as I was on my road to Sheffield, a courier
arrived at the inn upon the road, seemingly in great
haste, and, changing his horse, he informed me that
Parliament was dissolved the night before. I was
within twelve miles of Sheffield where I arrived in two
hours. The contest for the county of York was spoken
of as likely to be the most expensive that could be
imagined, the candidates being Lord Milton, Wilberforce,
and Lascelles. By that night's coach, I wrote to my esta-
blishment to get three sets of dies made for medals, the size
somewhat larger than a dollar ; to keep the die-sinkers
at work all the night, when, by the morning's coach,
they would receive from me what legend to put upon
them, and the blanks could be got ready at the time, and
to prepare for upwards of 20,000, with a hole in them
for ribbons. This was done, and on the fourth day
afterwards, just in time for the election at York, the
medals arrived at Sheffield, about five or six thousand for
each candidate. I proceeded with them to York, when
the three committees took them all. Many hundred
pounds was gained by this thought ; and as Liverpool
was to be severely contested in a few days after York, I
made similar medals for the three candidates at Liver-
pool. They arrived there in time, and were adopted by

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1807. the committees with equal success ; about 30,000 being
required. It was a new thought to have medals at
elections. The committees gave away the medals to the
voters, and to each medal a ribbon.

In 1807, Christoph6, the black general, conquered
the whole of the Island of St. Domingo, and made him-
self emperor, and addressed the inhabitants (blacks)
in a speech in French, of which the following is a
copy : —

"Haytiens, — ^La loi vielle sur nous a nommer un
bienfaisant ami ; elle nous arrache aux complots et aux
machinations auxquels nous etions exposes, et sur le
point de devenir les victimes } elle nous procure un code
nouveau, adapts a notre climat, k nos manieres, et
nous arrache pour ainsi du chaos ou nous retombe-
rons en fixant les destinies d'Hayti."

A merchant having just arrived from St. Domingo,
being one of those driven away, called at my establish-
ment, and mentioned to me the state of the island, and
the energetic character and natural talents of the
Emperor, and that certain English manufactures would
be required. It appeared to me that speculation might
be advantageous if I could tranquillize the hostile anti-
pathy of the Emperor to the English or to any white men.
I hit upon the plan of making 5000 medals, with the
Emperor's likeness on one side, and his speech on the
other ; and in three weeks I had them ready to be for-
warded by the first vessel sailing for that port.

Having mentioned this to some manufacturers, in
Birmingham, SheflBeld, &c., they agreed, that, if I would
send one of my principal managers with the selection of
goods from them, and from my manufactory also, they
would each run the chance of the success of sale. We

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engaged a pordon of a London vessel loading for the 1807.
island. The Emperor was flattered with his speech
being struck upon the medals, and accepted, with every
courtesy, the 5000 medals. The supercargo was taken
ill of the fever, and obliged to be put on board another
vessel, and to return home ; so he abandoned the
goods to the agent there. Christophe, hearing of
this, was so generous as to remit the duties, and
allow the captain to take back the remainder of the
cargo unsold, and which, principally, was not suited to
the market, therefore unsaleable. No profit was gained
by this adventure, but, I believe, no loss. The Emperor,
however, made me his manufacturer for any articles that
he might require in the Birmingham line, which kept
up a little profitable correspondence with that island.

One order which I received from the Government of
St. Domingo was for a large gold snuff-box, with the
gold impression from the medal die set in the centre of
the lid, and surrounded with pyrites diamonds. The
Haytian Charg6 des Affaires, who brought over this
order, presented me with an extraordinary tamarind
stone, having an exact profile (as he said) of one of
Christophers former generals, who was condemned to be
hanged upon a tamarind tree in the garden of the palace,
near the spot where the general had committed a foul
murder. He observed that the tree had ever since
produced only three or four fruit, the stones of which bore
the exact profile of the departed general, consequently
these tamarind stones were extremely sought after. I
possess this extraordinary Itistis naturce, mounted with a
gold ring, as presented.

In 1807, I made 20,000 medals for the King's party,
in South America, to favour the Bourbons ; these were

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1807« sent through the house of Gordon and Murphy, at a
period when a considerahle profit might have been
expected ; but the affietirs of their establishment in South
America were thrown into disorder, and no tidings
could ever be given to whom these 20,000 medals were
sold, as the store, or dep6t, was plundered. I never
speculated or sait goods, on my own account, to foreign
markets to any extent, and when I did, three times out
of four the goods sold to a loss ; and I am confident that
speculation, to any extent, is never adviseable.

1808. In the year 1808, Earl Percy sent me a very extraor-
dinary piece of thick japanned leather, and requested I
would try some experiments upon this new introduction,
as the Earl says, ^* I have great curiosity in hearing the
result, and whether it would like to prove of use in your
manufactory ; and should you have, any time, any new
inventions, a line upon the subject will at aU times
afford great satisfaction.

*• Yours, &c.,
'' Sion, 24th Nov., 1808.'* Percy.

1809. M. Boulton, Esq., died this year, viz., lyth August,
1809i at the age of 82 ; his son, Mr. Robinson Boulton,
being desirous to pay every respect to the obsequies of his
father, the funeral was upon the most extensive scale.
I had the honour of an invitation as one of the mourners,
in consequence of my having been a Sohonian, residing
there as one of Mr. Boulton's pupils from the age of
sixteen years to that of twenty-one. I was flattered by
this mark of kindness, and I retain the medal then struck
off at Soho, and presented to me, in common with others,
as commemorative of the event As this medal was only
of the description commemorative of his death and fune-

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ra]» I requested my then esteemed friend, Mr. George 1809.
Mynd, a nephew of the late Mr. Boulton, to learn, for
my guidance, if Mr. Rohinson Boulton purposed to make
a medal of his late father, for if he did not, I would, at
my own expense, engrave dies for one of the finest class,
and firom the wax model, hy Rowe, which I had then in
my possession, Mr. Mynd informed me that his cousin
did not intend to make a medal of his late father.

I completed a pair of dies, which were engraved hy
my hest die engraver at that period, viz., W. Wyon, the
uncle to the die engraver, Wyon, of her Majesty's
Mint. Great pains were taken to ohtain a good like-
ness, and which was happily accomplished to my satis-
faction. It was the deepest cut die then extant, and
upwards of four inches in diameter, supposed to he the
largest medal in Europe, and of the highest relief.

On the reverse, round the legend : — " Bom at Bir-
mingham, Sept. Sd, 1728. Died August 17th, 1809,
aged 81.*' And in the centre : — " The liberal and en-
lightened patron of arts and manufactures."

So remarkable was this medal, that it was to be exhi-
bited one evening at the Royal Society. The Russian
Ambassador, having a knowledge of it, brought with
him the great Russian medal, which he announced was
the largest in the world. It certainly was of greater
spread, or diameter, than mine ; but a mathematician
insisted that the elevations of the work of each ought to
be merged, and calculated into their respective diame-
ters, llie work in the Russian medal was flat, and the
work on mine half an inch higher in elevation, and,
therefore, under this mode of calculation, mine had the
superiority, and was, undoubtedly, the most difficult
p 2

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1809. medal to execute. This triumph was highly gratifying
to me.

The Emperor of Austria ordered two of them in
silver, and afterwards two medals of all the dies that I
then possessed, which were very numerous. One series
was for his private cabinet, the other for the public
museum at Vienna ; and this extraordinary medal made
me known in Germany as a medallist of some celebrity.

1810. I^ ^^^ beginning of January, 1810, I encreased my
manufacturing rooms, to add a new trade — the plating,
upon steel, of knives, forks, spoons, &c. There being
an idea at this period that there was no affinity be-
tween steel and silver, and a medium must be found
that would unite with or have an affinity for both.
This medium was tin ; a thing known before, but not
acted upon so scientifically as it might have been. I
succeeded, and my manufactures in this novel line were
appreciated by the public, as the following letter, dated
S6th Feb., 1810, Northumberland House, and signed
" Percy,'* will prove : —

" Northumberland House, 26th Feb., 1810.

" Having mentioned your plated steel knives and
forks, spoons, and plates in imitation of silver, to a gen-
tleman who is soon to set off for a country where there is
much difficulty in procuring earthenware, he is very
desirous of taking some out with him. I will be much
obliged to you, therefore, to send me, as soon as possible,
one dozen of each, with the bill for them, as I should
hope that you have, by this time, succeeded in coining
plates. Should there, however, be any shop in town
to which you send your goods, it would, perhaps, be

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better to refer me to that shop, instead of sencUog the 1810.
things from Birminghami^ as I could see a greater variety
to choose out of. I am anxious. Sir, to know whether you
lately produced any new inventions, and, also, whether
you have been able to convert the Japan leather to any
use. Should the Club which you mentioned to me when
I was in Birmingham publish their dissertations or lec-
tures, I should wish very much to see them.
'* I remain,

"Your obedient servant,


"E. Thomason, Esq., Church Street, Birmingham.'^

I dare say that the new manufacture occupied much
of my spare time during this year, to see what class of
articles could be made to answer ; and it appeared that
this mode of plating was confined to small articles, and
the dinner plates, to which the noble Earl Percy aUudes,
could not be properly accomplished*

The following letter, from a gentleman resident in
Bath, will shew the opinion which that gentleman enter-
tained of the magnitude of my establishment : —

"24th Sept., 1810.
" Dear Sir,

" Last autumn, when I passed through
your town, you did me the favour to allow me to glance
over your vast and splendid premises. I now take the
liberty to request of you to indulge we with a line respect-
ing any novel and very portable nicknacks of ingenuity,
should any such be executed since that period, which

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1810. might have been the latter end of last September. I shall
remain here four or five days^ and then proceed to London.
The novel articles I wish to meet with should be such
as suit the ingenious and curious part of the gay world.
Should your description be such as suit my ideas, I shall,
on receiving your answer, commission you to send me
some of the articles. You will be so good as to mention
the name of your agent or correspondent here, as I shall
apply to him for that purpose, and it is to him I will pay
for the same in case I should order any to be sent me. T,
at the same time, would be glad to be informed of your
principal agent in London, so that, when I am there, I
might make enquiry for novel inventions as they arrive
from the fountain head — ^your manufactory.

" Please to direct thus : — ^Dr. Wm. Lloyd, (Camb.
Brit.) Post Office, Bath.

" I am, dear Sir,
" Your very obedient and humble servant.

Bath, 24th Sept.

** P.S. I cannot help thinking I ought to apologize for
taking up your time upon uncertainties. However, I
flatter myself you will be goodnatured enough to excuse
this effort I make, with a view to gratify my friends, in
case anything shall appear perfectly novel and originaL

" W. L.''

The copper and silver change in the year 1810 became
so extremely scarce and inconvenient throughout the
country, that the demand for the manufacture of tokens,
to enable the masters of manufactories and others to

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pay their workmen their weekly wages, was so great that 1810.

I had endless applications for hoth, as I was at this

period making the silver coinage of crowns, half-crowns,

shillings, and sixpences for the Douglas Bank, in the

Isle of Man. On the ohverse was Peel Castle, on the

reverse the nominal value. And I manufactured during

this year silver and copper tokens for Wales, Brecon,

Gainshorough, and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and for many

different estahlishments in the neighbourhood; upon

which the Earl of Lauderdale sent me the following

letter, dated

"Dunbar House, Dunbar,

"August 31, 1810.

" In a letter I received last night from Mr.

B. Thomson, manager of the Burichie Main CoUiery,

Newcastle, in reply to a printed letter I had sent him,

as an issuer of tokens, he says, * I would recommend

*your applying on the subject of your letter to E.

* Thomason, Esq., of Birmingham, who, I apprehend,

* can give you more general information in relation to it
' than perhaps any other individual.'

" I have to urge this as my apology for inclosing one of
my circular letters to you, and to assure you that I will
be grateful for any information you can give. A list of
the names and addresses of those you know to be en-
gaged in circulating local tokens will be particularly


" I am, Sir,

" Your most obedient humble servant,

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1810. Enclosed to me under cover from the Earl of Lau-

** Dunbar House, Dunbar.
«* Sir,

" In taking the liberty to transmit to you the fol-
lowing queries, which I have sent to all the issuers of local
tokens in his Majesty's dominions (whose address I have
been able to learn), I feel confident, that you will attri-
bute to me no improper curiosity or wish to pry into the
nature of an undertaking, in which I am thoroughly
convinced that nothing but the necessity of the case, and
a desire to promote the convenience of the public, would
have led you to embark.

** In the last session of Parliament, I opposed the Bill
intituled * An Act to prevent the issuing and circii-
bating of pieces of gold and silver, or other metal,
* usually/ called tokens, except such as are issued by
^the Banks of England and Ireland respectively.*
Much as I could wish for the credit and welfare of the
country that a general revision should take place of the
principles upon which our circulation is now conducted,
I was then, and am now, perfectly convinced, that the
measure of annihilating all local tokens in the month of
March next, unless it should be attended with some
further arrangements, must prove highly injurious.

" I am indeed of opinion, that there is just reason to
believe, that if this Act is not repealed immediately on
the meeting of Parliament, the commerce of this country
will sustain a most severe shock. For, in my view of
the subject, it will deprive the master-manufacturer of
the power of paying the wages of his workmen, and
leave the poorer consumer without the means of dealing

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with the retail trader ; whilst it would prove a source of 1810.
infinite inccmvenience to the community at large.

** That there exists in this country no standard silver
coin of weight and quality, such as can legally circulate,
is a thing uniyersally admitted. In the circular letter
which the present Earl of Liverpool, when Secretary of
State for the Home Department, addressed to aU the
Lord-lieutenants of counties, in December, 1804, the
rapid deterioration of our shillings and sixpences was
admitted, though even as early as the year 1798 we
learn, both from the late Earl of Liverpool and from
Mr. Dorien, that the silver coin was in a most degraded

" By Lord Liverpool, in his Treatise on the Coins of
the RealtUj the shillings are said to have been, in 1798,
deficient to the amount of upwards of twenty-four per
cent, and the sixpences to the amount of more than
thirty-eight per cent., when compared with the standard

Online LibraryQuébec (Province). LegislatureSessional papers → online text (page 3 of 25)