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  • Original manuscript Accounts Book 1791/92 – Most Likely – Webster’s Ropery Sunderland, County Durham, England

    Original manuscript Accounts Book 1791/92 – Most Likely – Webster’s Ropery Sunderland, County Durham, England

    Original folio accounts book for the two-year ending 31st December 1792 most likely of or the predecessor to one of England’s leading maritime rope makers, Webster of Deptford, Sunderland County Durham. Original quarter reverse calf with marbled paper covered boards. 62 pages of fine handwriting … appears all the same hand.

    Titled at the head of page the first page “An Inventory of Goods etc at the Ropery belonging Messrs William Marshall and John Webster together with an account of the Debts due to & from them this first Day of January One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety One”

    The first record of rope making on Wearside (the river Weir runs through Sunderland) was in 1636. The rope was likely made from Baltic hemp. Before 1800 ropes were hand-made on ropewalks a practice that continued for another 100 years. Ropewalks had to be wide enough for four men to spin abreast of each other and long enough to make a standard 120 fathom marine rope. Up to 20 people may be employed on just one rope.

    Webster’s plant at Deptford was the first on Wearside driven by steam. It is believed to be the world’s first factory producing machine-made rope. Robert Fothergill a Sunderland schoolmaster had patented a machine to spin hemp the year after our accounts book (1793). It could be that this careful record was produced as part of an exercise to obtain finance for the mechanisation … although the low wages recorded suggest that that mechanisation may well have been underway. We do know that Fothergill died shortly afterwards and Grimshaw a local clockmaker took up the rights in partnership with our Webster and two others. Although its not clear whether the Webster involved was Rowland a distinguished magistrate or John as noted here.

    One of the partners in the business was the distinguished Rowland Burdon who later gave up his Parliamentary position on principle although many though that it was because Webster’s Ropery had gained very lucrative contracts with the Royal Navy and he was avoiding any backlash financially … for sure Webster’s were there at Trafalgar!

    The records mention many of the vessels of the day that would have been working out of the North-east along with their captains … e.g. Captain McQuarrie of the Fanny; Johnstone of the Nancy William; Robinson of the Broughton Tower; Cleminson of the Argyll; Kennel of the Endeavour (a new one); Dixon of the Sarah; Holm of the Hollow Oak; Neal of the Betsy.

    Neat recording of debts and payments with particulars of sales noted with full description for every transaction with monthly totals compared often against some measure of the physical amount sold (early KPI’s). Stock holdings, wages per wage period all set out very carefully. For an industrial historian there seems sufficient information to paint a pretty full picture of the extent of activities. We have gleamed that the Ropery Buildings are in the books at GBP 220, stockholdings were GBP205 and annual sales GBP484 with total wages of only GBP72. Looks nicely profitable.

    Interestingly, the Ropery building still exists and has been restored … it is a magnificent building and has been re-established as Webster’s Ropery … but as a beautiful wedding venue … check it out we have shown an image here.

    Accounting Records from 1792 …. unique Maritime interest …


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  • Amusing Manuscript Letter – William Anderson – Author of The Green Man

    Amusing Manuscript Letter – William Anderson – Author of The Green Man

    A nice and amusing term of phrase in a clear hand ….

    “My address will explain why you have had to wait so long for the return of the copy of my book The Green Man. I have signed the book for your friends but not with the full inscription they requested. This is not to be curmudgeonly but I do not understand what is meant by the expression “in ancient sunlight”. Also there is no sign of sunlight here, ancient or modern: there are high waves on the lake and the mountains are sheeted in cloud … I will keep the English stamps for use when I return to England.”

    Curmudgeon doubtful but careful with his words


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  • Signed Letter – Hetty Burlingame Beatty – Author  and illustrator of children’s books

    Signed Letter – Hetty Burlingame Beatty – Author and illustrator of children’s books

    A nice letter dated 1963 boldly signed in blue by Hetty Burlingame Beatty following a request by a fan for a signed photograph.

    Hetty Beatty (1907-1971) was a sculptor who turned to writing and illustrating her won children’s books. She had a love of the outdoors and horses. In her sculpting days she was quite successful with shows in Chicago and New York … her horse sculptures won her second prize at a prestigious competition.

    Her enthusiasm for the outdoors shines through in this simple letter as she describes her love for Colorado and Vermont and in England which was inspiration for her greatest success “Moorland Pony”

    Author’s love for animals worn on the sleeve.


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  • Original PhD Thesis – Chaos in Binary Star Systems – Dr Rosemary Anne Mardling – 1991 (With Special Notes)

    Original PhD Thesis – Chaos in Binary Star Systems – Dr Rosemary Anne Mardling – 1991 (With Special Notes)

    Original Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy – Monash University – 1991.

    Signed by Mardling with separate review notes of examiners Professor Tremaine and Dr Papaloizou and a manuscript note by the author contesting some of the criticism.

    A very good production, well bound in academic blue cloth covered boards, end papers, headbands, gilt titling to spine. Fine condition. This copy given to Kevin, who would be Professor Kevin Westfold (1921 – 2001) distinguished Australian astronomer. The Monash observatory carries his name and that of Hutton.

    Dr Rosemary Mardling is now an accomplished astrophysicist who divides her time between her alma mater Monash and Geneva University. A key element of her studies is the gravitational interactions between planets and the ways planets form. She is an “occasional” planet hunter at the European Southern Observatory in la Silla, Chile. Who says there’s no fun in Science?

    Whilst this work represents the highest level of theoretical mathematics for its period, as history buffs, we love the opening reference to Roche, Darwin (Not Charles) and Chandrasekhar . The French astronomer, Eduard Roche (1820-1883) was the first to study and model binary systems back in 1850. His work included the formulation or “discovery” of the Roche limit a fundamental principle still part of the fabric of astronomical studies of chaos, planetary formation etc and one easily understood!. Sir George Howard Darwin (barrister turned astronomer) progressed thinking further in the late Victorian era, with giant steps being taken by Nobel Prize winning Subrahmanyon Chandrasekhar (1910-1995) whilst he was at Cambridge (Cambridge again).

    The Thesis flows as follows … Binary System of Point mass and Polytrope – First Order Analysis (Equations of motion, scaling, perturbation analysis, energy, angular momentum, distortion, circular and elliptical orbits) and the Second Order Analysis with Modified Lindstedt-Poincare and comparisons; Binary System of Two Polytropes; Lyapunov Exponents and continuous mappings and conservative systems; Lyapunov Exponents for First Order Point Mass-Polytype System and Hamiltonian Canonical Form. Various appendices and references expected of the standard.

    Worth saying something about the distinguished reviewers. Scott Duncan Tremaine is Canadian and is regarded as in the top hand full of astrophysics world-wide. He coined the term “Kuiper belt” and predicated that the Saturn F ring was formed by two shepherding mini moons (later proven) and the same for the thin rings of Neptune … his co-written book Galactic Dynamics is the “go to text” and has been quoted so far in over 3,000 published research papers. Professor John Papaloizou (then Doctor) is at Cambridge (there you go again) were he specialises in accretion disks in particular regarding planetary formation. He discovered the Papaloiizou-Pringle instability. Both of Mardling’s reviewers have asteroids named after them and given their credentials she must have been either thrilled or in fear.

    Top Class Astro Thesis by continuing senior authority Dr Mardling with intriguing leading examiners review notes and a scientifically intimate manuscript note to Professor Westfold by the author regarding her concerns.


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  • Fresh Light from Ancient Monuments – Alfred Sayce – 1893 – Unusual Gift Inscription and Note from Author

    Fresh Light from Ancient Monuments – Alfred Sayce – 1893 – Unusual Gift Inscription and Note from Author

    Published by The Religious Tract Society in 1893, first published in 1883. Small octavo, 160 pages this edition in the delightful covers with the Inscription of Siloam in gilt to the front. Very good condition and the inscriptions makes the book special.

    Alfred Sayce, Voyager Hero, was Professor of Comparative Philology at Oxford when he wrote this book. Sayce, in his time was the font of all knowledge Assyrian.

    Confirmation of Biblical fact from ancient monuments covers the Book of Genesis (a good place to start); the Exodus from Egypt; the Moabite Stone and the Inscription of Siloam; the Empire of the Hittites; the Assyrian Invasions and Nebuchadrezzar and Cyrus. Three useful appendices provide the text of the treaty between the Hittites and Ramses II; a list of the months of the Assyrian year and a translation of a cylinder of Nabonidos, King of Babylonia. Four illustrations in the text and frontispiece.

    An interesting inscription by the author in pencil on the front endpapers “ With Compliments – Major North Simmons Assam 1894 – Just going on Slave Extermination Lagos and/or Accra, working to Cape Town via Nianja – AHS – Can you three join our party – AHS”

    Interesting work with intriguing note of gift from author


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  • Manuscript Captain’s Log Book –  Steamship Neptune 1866

    Manuscript Captain’s Log Book – Steamship Neptune 1866

    The log book of the Steamship Neptune from 7th November 1865 to 12th December 1867 covering several voyages from English ports to German, Scandinavian and Russian ports in the North Sea and Baltic. Kept in pen and pencil quite clear and legible and littered with navigational arithmetic … not particularly tidy.

    The journal is in a non-standard form 24cms by 19cms and some 300 pages. The ship occasionally uses sail in support of the steam power. Near the rear there are copy letters to the owners of the vessel in which the Master explains damage incurred through very heavy weather.

    Original manuscript log of the Steamer Neptune enduring heavy going in the North in 1866


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