New Goods! New Goods! An Ohio Storekeeper’s Inventory from 1838
Earlier this year, I typed up the 1847 inventory of Jacob Weaver, a storekeeper in Knox County, Ohio; this week I worked on the 1838 estate inventory of another storekeeper from the same county, Thomas Kincaid.
Here is a sample of the inventory. (“Do” means “ditto” or, “Same as the word above.”)
|Amount||Item||price per yard||total|
|35.5 yards||Jeans||$1.00 per yard||35.50|
|32.75 yards||Fine jeans||$1.37 per yard||45.03|
|66 yards||Do||$.88 per yard||58.08|
|29 yards||Do||$.70 per yard||20.30|
|5 yards||Green cloth||$3.00 per yard||15.00|
|5.5 yards||Blue cloth||$3.50 per yard||19.25|
|11.75 yards||Do||$4.00 per yard||47.00|
|16 yards||Do||$1.75 per yard||28.00|
|10.25 yards||Do black||$1.85 per yard||18.96|
|179 yards||Calico||$.14 per yard||25.06|
|80 yards||Do||18.75 cents per yard||15.00|
|7 yards||do||$.14 per yard||0.98|
|64 yards||dark Calico||$.16 per yard||10.24|
|49 yards||Red ditto||18.75 cents per yard||9.18|
|113 yards||Blue do||$.11 per yard||12.43|
|142 yards||Dark calico||$.12 per yard||17.04|
|34.5 yards||Do||$.10 per yard||3.45|
|20 yards||Dark calico||$.15 per yard||3.00|
My 6-page inventory of the textiles can be found in this PDF: 1838 Kincaid Inventory
Compare and Contrast
Comparing the 1838 Kincaid inventory to the 1847 Weaver one, the values of their merchandise on hand were about the same. Appraisers recorded that the total value of Kincaid’s merchandise was $2580.46, which in 2018 dollars would be about $70,000. Jacob Weaver’s merchandise was worth $2843.87, which would be about $77,000 today.
However, Kincaid was owed about double the amount Weaver was — $3723.72 (or more than $101,000 in today’s money), contrasted with Weaver’s outstanding amount of $1900 (or $58,900 today). It would be interesting to know which amount was more usual among storekeepers — I have found Weaver’s will, and he knew he was sick — possibly he made an effort to collect what he was owed before he died.
Kincaid had less than half the yardage of fabric in his store — about 3700 yards compared to Weaver’s 8600 yards. Kincaid had 43 types of fabric, at 49 different price points, ranging from $.07 to $4.00 a yard ($1.90 to $108.76 per yard today), valued at $1,271.58.
Weaver had 69 different types of fabric in his store, at 58 different price points from $.06 to $4.25 a yard (about $1.69 to $131.07 in today’s money). Looking at the charts below, you can see the various price points and the number of fabrics at each one.
Kincaid stocked fewer types of thread than did Weaver. I could only find one, hanks of white thread at $.25 each. He also offered less than half of the laces, ribbons, and trims than Weaver did.
Times being what they were, both merchants offered few ready-made clothing items — just caps, handkerchiefs, gloves, hose, shoes and boots, and shawls.
Dyes and mordants in the Weaver store included madder, indigo, logwood, Glauber’s salts, and Epsom salts; in the Kincaid store, you could pick up saleratus (baking soda) and cream of tartar, copperas and brimstone, but no dye materials.
I would be so interested to know the reasons for the differences between the stores. Kincaid’s store was inventoried 9 years before Weaver’s, and also, he was in a smaller town, Clay Township. Even today it has a population of only about 1600 people, whereas Weaver was in Mount Vernon, the county seat, with a population ten times larger. So were the differences based strictly on what merchandise was available in their time? Or were the two storekeepers tailoring their selections for their markets? Or would they have made different merchandise decisions even if they had had shops next door to each other? Were Weaver’s prices higher due to inflation? Or was he aiming for a higher-income customer?
Well! While I was linking to the original records, I found yet another store owner in Knox County, and I hope to analyze his merchandise soon!
Original Source Information
Of course in the original record, there were pages of other merchandise as well — teapots, kettles, axes, etc. The source record is found in Ohio Probate Records, 1789-1996, Knox County, Estate Records 1830-1843, Volume B, pp. 503 ff. You can see it online here, Image 270 of 623 — you will need a Family Search account but you can sign up for free.
An 1838 dollar is worth $27.19 in 2018, an 1847 dollar is worth about $30.84 today.