Skip to main content

Nathaniel Richards ledger

Identifier: MSS 0096-Item 0151

Scope and Contents

This ledger was likely kept by Nathaniel Richards, a metalworker and retailer in Wilmington, Delaware, to record the sale of hardware between 1779 and 1790.

In this ledger, Richards recorded his merchandise sales and business expenditures. Most of the entries date from July 1779 to 1781, but Richards recorded the payment of debts through 1790. Richards kept accounts with many prominent Delaware merchants and businessmen, including Israel Brown, Samuel Paxson, Joseph Shipley, Vincent Gilpin, Joseph Shallcross, John Janvier, and Cyrus Newlin. Richards’ transactions with Israel Brown were extensive and suggest that Brown was retailing some of his merchandise. Richards recorded sales of various items, including bellows, saw files, trunk nails, padlocks, spoons, screws, brass knobs, hinges, latches, castings, and penknives. He also kept accounts of merchandise and cash sales, hard money spent and received, and bonds held. Richards also seems to have conducted extensive business with one of the local mills, as shown by an account labeled “Mill in Company.” On the final page of his accounts, Richards noted that he delivered goods to David Ferris’s daughters in partial payment for renting Ferris’s store from July 1779 to November 1780.

This volume is bound in brown leather with tooled lines and decorative borders on the front and back covers. A handwritten inscription in black ink on the front pastedown reads “Ledger A/Anno Domini 1779.” The ledger contains thirty-eight leaves of laid paper with vertical columns with handwritten text in black ink; the remaining two hundred and thirteen leaves are blank. The paper features the “Maid of Dort” watermark, consisting of the inscription “Pro Patria” and the maid of Holland seated within a palisade holding a hat on the point of a spear. Also inside the palisade is a Dutch lion rampant with a sabre in its right forepaw and a brace of seven arrows in its left forepaw. A liberty bell hangs from the gate of the palisade.


  • Creation: 1779-1790
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1779-1781


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Historical Note

This ledger was probably kept by Nathaniel Richards, an early metalworker in Wilmington, Delaware. Richards’ clients included many tradesman and prominent citizens operating in Wilmington and New Castle, Delaware, during the colonial and early national period, including John Janvier, Israel Brown, Obidiah Dingee, Joseph Shipley, John Stow, Joseph Shallcross, Samuel Paxson, Vincent Gilpin, John Hayes, and many others. Shallcross was a miller, West Indian trader, and eventually mayor of Wilmington. Janvier was a civic leader in New Castle, noted banker, and president of the New Castle Turnpike and Railroad Company.

Information derived from the collection.


1 volume : 251 leaves ; 34 cm


This ledger was likely kept by Nathaniel Richards, a metalworker and retailer in Wilmington, Delaware, to record the sale of hardware between 1779 and 1790.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, May 2016

Related Materials in this Repository

This item forms part of MSS 0096 Account Books and Ledgers collection.

Shelving Summary

Item 0151: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0096

Processing Information

Processed by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, December 2017.

Finding aid for Nathaniel Richards ledger
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2017 December 21
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA