Bombazetts for Sale!

Bombazetts were only one of the many dry goods for sale by William Manning Jr. in his shop at No. 1 Old Faneuil Hall in Boston around 1835, as we can see in this broadside issued by Manning and recently purchased by the Osborne Library. Along with ginghams, plaids, calicoes, cambrics, linens, silks, velvets, etc.—all terms we recognize today—he also sold such fabrics as bombazetts (a thin dressgoods cloth), fearnoughts (a heavy English cheviot material), duffils (a poor quality blanket made from low grade woolen yarns), kerseys (a term referring to both a high quality woolen fabric and a coarse ribbed or twilled fabric), and bockings (a coarse woolen fabric used for floor cloths), terms that have pretty much faded from the modern lexicon!

Fabrics, of course, were only one aspect of a dry goods store. Manning also sold all of the accompaniments that would be used when sewing a piece of clothing—buttons, ribbons, laces—as well as the needles, thread, and pins needed, plus gloves, handkerchiefs, shawls, hosiery, umbrellas, and the like. And for those interested in one-stop shopping, note the reference to butter and cheese being for sale in the cellar under Manning’s store. Manning’s shop was located directly opposite what we know today as Quincy Market in downtown Boston, where shopkeepers of all sorts of provisions could be found, both then and now.

Industry and art come together in this broadside with the addition of a charming engraving of Faneuil Hall at the top of the sheet, making Manning’s shop location instantly recognizable, even to those who might not be able to read his long list of “articles too numerous to be mentioned.” Manning was “desirous to extend his business” and was willing to accept goods in exchange or barter. He offered cash or credit terms, and would deal wholesale or retail. Despite the wear and tear seen on the sheet, it’s remarkable that this thin sheet survived 175 years to remind us of how some things have changed but some things haven’t. As any business owner would say today, it’s all about the service!

Jane Ward, Assistant Librarian

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