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Revere and Devens 86 Years Later

I wrote earlier about Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride, noting that Liberty Paper Mill customer Richard Devens was waiting in Charlestown for Revere to arrive by boat over the Charles River.

In one of those strange twists of fate and history, this scene would repeat itself in an eerily similar fashion more than 85 years later near Leesburg, Virginia, in a battle that became known as Ball’s Bluff.

Instead of the Charles River in Massachusetts, Colonel Charles Devens (great-grandson of Commissary General Richard Devens) was waiting on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. It was October 20, 1861. Brigadier General Charles P. Stone had ordered Devens and his 15th Massachusetts Infantry to attack a Confederate camp at daylight. Two companies of the 20th Massachusetts Infantry would also cross the river to protect Devens’ return. (The 20th Massachusetts was nicknamed The Harvard Regiment; all its members were graduates.)

Late that night, Devens’ five companies, along with Colonel William R. Lee’s two companies of the 20th Massachusetts, began crossing the Potomac from Harrison’s Island to Ball’s Bluff. Five companies of the 15th Massachusetts, and Major Paul Joseph Revere (grandson of Paul Revere), and five companies of the 20th, remained on the Maryland shore as support

Early the next day, Lee sent a note to Revere that Devens has been engaged in a skirmish and that “we are determined to fight.” Revere began crossing his five companies of the 20th with two mountain howitzers from the island to the bluff.

There were just enough boats for Revere to get the 20th Massachusetts and the howitzers to the battle. But when things went badly, there weren’t enough boats nor enough time to get all back to safety. Devens, injured in the battle, was able to swim to safety. Revere and Lee, both wounded, were not so lucky. They were captured and spent several months in a Confederate prison camp.


Devens distinguished himself throughout the war. His troops were the first to occupy Richmond after its fall in April of 1865.

He was named a judge of the Massachusetts superior court, from 1867 to 1873, and was an associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from 1873 to 1877, and again from 1881 to 1891. From 1877 to 1881, he was Attorney General in the Cabinet of President Rutherford B. Hayes.

Fort Devens in central Massachusetts, which opened in 1917, was named in his honor.


After Revere’s prisoner exchange, he participated in the campaign on the James River, and at Antietam was on General Sumner’s staff. There he was complimented for his gallantry, having received a severe wound. Upon his recovery he was promoted as Colonel of the 20th Regiment.

He was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg, defending a pivotal position during Pickett’s Charge.

An unusual monument—a puddingstone boulder—was erected in memory of Revere and the 43 other men of his company who died at the Battle of Gettysburg. The 30-ton colossus, dedicated in 1886, was imported by train from Roxbury, Mass., where many of the soldiers grew up. Now, it can be visited on Hancock Avenue, near the immortalized “copse of trees” and the Confederate High Water Mark.


Dr. Edward Hutchinson Robbins Revere, a brother, enlisted as an assistant surgeon in the 20th. While his brother was proving his gallantry at Antietam, Dr. Revere was killed by an exploding shell while caring for a wounded soldier.

First cousin, Joseph Warren Revere, also served in the Civil War, rising to the rank of Brigadier General. But his conduct at the Battle of Chancellorsville caused him to be court-martialed. President Lincoln overturned the court’s ruling, but accepted his resignation.

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Pomp Lovejoy and ‘lection cake

An interesting character along the way…

The following is from “Andover Stories: Pompey Lovejoy – ‘lection cake and ginger root beer

By Pam Smith
Andover Historical Society

His gravestone still stands in the Lovejoy lot of the South Church cemetery. His epitaph reads “Born in Boston a slave; died in Andover a free man; February 23, 1826; Much respected as a sensible; amiable and upright man.”

pomp lovejoy grave lo-res

Pompey Lovejoy was born in 1724 as a slave to Captain William Lovejoy. Pompey took his last name from the family he served. At age 9, he and his master moved to Andover. The captain was so fond of “Pomp” that in 1762 he granted him an early freedom “from all slavery and servitude.” Later, Capt. Lovejoy’s will stipulated that Pompey “be given some choice acreage so that he might better enjoy his later years.” Pompey’s land was located close to the road that led to the pond that would eventually bear his name.

On Dec. 26, 1751, Pompey wed Rose, a servant of Andover’s John Foster. A remnant of Rose’s 200-year-old wedding dress may still be seen at the Andover Historical Society.

Pompey and Rose built their cabin on the land inherited from Captain Lovejoy. It was said “he crooned songs while he fried his ham and eggs. He darned his own socks if they ever were darned.” It was written that he played the fiddle until “his fingers grew stiff” and “his elbow lost its elasticity.” And it was said, “They had smiles for you even if Pomp was ‘bad with rheumatiz’, or Rose was laid up for a spell.”

At 52, Pompey served one and a half days in the Revolutionary War under Captain Henry Abbot’s company. He never saw combat because by the time the Andover soldiers arrived in Lexington the battle was over. A march to chase the retreating British enemy lasted until dark and only resulted in a tiring 35-mile march.

Pompey was a town fixture. The custom of New England Town Meeting days provided special occasions where the townspeople could socialize and discuss politics. Pompey and his wife would host gatherings at their cabin in the woods, and they were in charge of making the ‘lection cake and ginger root beer.

It was said “Pity the town meeting house crowd on election day if Pompey was not custodian of the cake and beer. Woe to the funeral wake if Pompey did not mix the grog and serve it.”

Editor’s Note: Pomp Lovejoy visited the Liberty Paper Mill twice. In May of 1781 he purchased 1 ¼ dozen press papers, and in May of 1782, bought one dozen press papers. He paid with 121 pounds of rags from Andover.

Pomp Lovejoy lection cake lo-res

Pomp Lovejoy’s ‘lection Cake

1 pound sugar

4 pounds flour

1 pound butter

½ pint sweet lively yeast mixed with warm milk.

(I cut the recipe by 75%, and it’s very interesting, and very good in an 18th-century sort of way.)

Any bakers out there? I would love to have a real recipe that tells what to do with the dough/batter.

Email me at

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Keeping Good Company

We noticed, during an internet search, that Crane stationery was quite popular among the prominent ladies and gentlemen of 1898. From The American Stationer:

A few noted people and the paper they use: Collated from leading stationers who have kindly furnished us with the information. It goes to show how popular our papers are with the leading people in every field in life.

Mrs. Ex-President Cleveland uses Crane’s Blue Bond 21.

Mrs. George Gould, nee Edith Kingdon, uses Crane’s Grecian Antique 20 for her choice correspondence and the Crane’s Super Cream stock for her ordinary notes.

Mrs. Cyrus Field is another great admirer of Crane’s Grecian Antique, which she says suits her style of writing.

Jay Gould’s daughter uses Crane’s Blue Buckram Bond, a stub pen being her favorite for writing.

The ladies of the Bonaparte family in Baltimore use Crane’s Parchment Vellum 70, and write with the large fashionable hand. The paper is stamped with their crest in gold, and consists of two stars in shield, and bars accosted, surmounted with a crown, the emblem of royalty.

Mrs. William B. Astor has long used Crane’s Extra Superfine, and will have no other.

Madame Modjeska has a decided preference for Crane’s Bond and Parchment Vellum, and oscillates between the two.

General A.S. Webb had adopted Crane’s Kid Finish Cream as his preference.

The ladies of Ex-Mayor Hewitt’s family all use Crane’s Extra Superfine White Wove.

Mrs. Senator Stockbridge’s notes are on Crane’s Silver Gray paper in the extra superfine.

Miss Dorothy Phillips, the celebrated Washington beauty, thinks Crane’s Old Style the best paper made, and prefers it.

General Schofield endorses her opinion and Crane’s Old Style always bears his autograph.

W.J. Florence, the actor, writes easily on Crane’s Old Style, which he thinks is great, and Joseph Jefferson, “Old Rip Van Winkle,” prefers Crane’s Silver Gray Super 60.

The Legation of Japan all use Crane’s Extra Superfine White Wove.

A.G. Bell, Esq., of telephone fame, cares only for Crane’s Extra Super 80 Pound.

Hon. Henry Cabot Lodge prefers Crane’s Distaff.

Senator Edmunds, of Vermont, also prefers Crane’s Distaff.

Hon. William M. Evarts has long used Distaff and will have no other.

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Edison Relies on Crane, Again

On November 7, 1931, W. Murray Crane Jr. received the following letter from The Edison Institute of Technology in Dearborn, Michigan, again proving the quality and durability of Crane papers, as well as their continued role as the medium of innovation:

“Just 50 years ago, you sold to the Edison Machine Works on Goerk Street, New York City, some paper which they used for insulation between copper discs on what was known at that time as the “Jumbo” dynamo. There were only 23 of these dynamos made and as far as we can learn, there is only one left at the present time, and we have that one in Dearborn.

“The above machine was the first one to be started in the Old Pearl Street Station of New York City, which was the first central station in America for supplying incandescent electric lighting service on a commercial basis.

“We are planning to reproduce at least one section of the Old Pearl Street Station at Dearborn and in preparing to do this we found it necessary to tear down this old generator and reinsulate some of its parts, as in fifty years some of this insulation had become thoroughly dried out and quite brittle, and we considered it inadvisable to try to use it under those circumstances.

“In taking some of the round flat copper discs apart, which were on each end of the armature, we found that they were insulated from each other by some paper which was made by your company in 1881. We are pleased to enclose a sample of this paper, thinking it might be of interest to you, as you will notice that with the exception of the extreme outer edge, the paper appears to be in first-class condition.”


Mr. Crane wrote back, in part:

“You will be interested to know that we have equipped a portion of one of our mills about 100 years old as a museum…and assure you that the sheet which you have sent us will very shortly be added to our exhibits therein. We know, of course, that Mr. Ford is interested in similar ventures himself and we hope some time when he is motoring through, he will stop here and see our museum.”

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The Checkered Game of Life

In his letter to Crane & Co. of Nov. 11, 1881, Mr. Bradley seemed a bit put out that a company such as Crane would be ordering gummed labels of various sizes and colors for its samples.

“We should prefer to engrave you a neat business label, and make you a plain artistic  design, something that you could use on all your various sizes and papers…and all your labels would look uniform by having the same border design and the same tint of paper.”


Actually, this letter was likely not written by Milton Bradley himself; more about that in a bit.

Bradley was born in Vienna, Maine, in 1836 and moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, at the age of 19. Trained as a draftsman, Bradley got a job with the Wason Car Manufacturing Co., drawing the plans for the company’s line of locomotives and railroad cars. It was after Bradley was given a color lithograph of a particularly lavish car which he had helped to design for the ruler of Egypt, that he decided to go into the lithography business himself. In 1860, at the age of 24, he formed the Milton Bradley Company to produce lithographs for Springfield businesses. With the only color lithograph machine in Massachusetts outside Boston, Bradley was soon busy with orders, but making a profit was difficult.

The website Funding Universe tells us that one evening while visiting his best friend, George Tapley, Bradley played an old English board game and conceived the idea of inventing a distinctly American game.  Calling his game “The Checkered Game of Life,” he borrowed the format of the familiar checkerboard and incorporated into it a narrative of life as seen through the eyes of the New England puritan tradition. The object of the game was to achieve “Happy Old Age” instead of “Ruin.” Bradley spent weeks producing several hundred copies of the game and then set off for New York City to try selling this first production run to distributors. To Bradley’s surprise, dealers were unreservedly enthusiastic about the new game, which could be sold as a lesson in morals as well as an entertaining pastime, and within a few days Bradley had sold his entire stock.

Milton Bradley Checkered Game of Life

By the winter of 1860, Bradley had sold 40,000 copies of the game, and it was becoming a nationwide fad. Bradley became convinced that future success would come through producing games.

Bradley and his company would have an interesting and varied history from this point forward. Bradley attended a lecture in 1869 about the German movement toward kindergarten and became enthralled with the concept of pre-school education. Bradley’s company’s involvement with kindergartens began with the production of gifts,” geometric wooden playthings that he felt were necessary to properly structure children’s creative development. As he became more and more committed to the movement, Bradley began manufacturing other educational materials considered essential by Froebel including colored papers and paints. Bradley spent months devising the exact shades in which to produce these materials; his final choice of six pigments of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet would remain the standard colors for children’s art supplies through the 20th century.

The Milton Bradley company was acquired by toy giant Hasbro in 1984. Hasbro remains proud of its roots in association with Milton Bradley, and beginning Nov. 25, 2011, will open a new permanent exhibit at the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History. Made possible by a grant from the Hasbro Children’s Fund, the new Hasbro GameLand pays tribute to Milton Bradley with games of memory, chance, speed, imagination, strategy and word play.

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B.F. Wade: Toledo Printer

Continuing our look at some of my favorite 19th-century letterheads from the Crane archives. Today is B.F. Wade, a prominent printer in Toledo. This was no small operation. Here’s a photo of their showroom. The business took up four floors:

BF Wade showroom

A couple of their wonderfully colorful letterheads. They used lots of metallic gold which doesn’t show up well, so you will just have to imagine the impact.

BF Wade Letterhead 1

BF Wade Letterhead 2

And an engraved stock certificate. These guys were good!

BF Wade stock certificate

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Loving 19th-Century Letterheads

I’m a big fan of 19th-century letterheads. They range from the minimal to the artistically overblown. I prefer something in between. I have encountered many of these letterheads over the year, and I would like to share some of them.

Let’s start with my favorite:

Nichols LeFever letterhead

In this case, the elegance of the image on the letterhead is mirrored by the elegance of the shotguns made by Nichols & LeFever in the 1870s.


Daniel LeFever began his gunsmithing apprenticeship in 1851 in Central New York. After partnerships with James Ellis, Francis Dangerfield and Lorenzo Barber, he joined up with John Nichols in Syracuse. They continued to make breechloading rifles and shotguns. In the meantime LeFever is working on a hammerless system involving a lever on the side to cock the firing pins after the breech is closed. In 1878 a hammerless breechloading shotgun was awarded First Prize for the best breechloading shotgun in America at the St. Louis Bench show and Sportsman’s Association.

In 1879 (there’s that date again!) the partners decided to go their own separate ways. But their three-year legacy has been a favorite among collectors for years.

And just who is George E. Hart & Co. mentioned in the letter above? Hart started a company in 1874 that primarly made watch-making machinery. But he was also the patentee and manufacturer of the “Sportsman’s Favorite” metallic shell for breechloading shotguns and rifles.

Nichols Le

Why were Hart and Nichols & LeFever in need of Crane paper? Stay tuned!

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Edison’s Light Bulb: 50 Years Later

We recently took a brief look at the year 1879 and noted its importance to Crane and a couple of its customers, including Thomas Edison.

We’re still researching that relationship over the years, and were delighted to find the following in the archives:

Interestingly enough, parts of the event were captured on film. In 1891, the Edison Company successfully demonstrated the Kinetoscope, which enabled one person at a time to view moving pictures. In 1896, Edison showed his improved Vitascope projector and it was the first commercially successful projector in the United States.

The video which follows was produced in conjunction with Light’s Golden Jubilee, a campaign celebrating the 50th anniversary of Thomas Edison’s invention of the commercially available electric light bulb, which ended with an event held in Dearborn, Michigan on October 21, 1929.

In the evening, after a banquet in Edison’s honor, Edison, Henry Ford, and Herbert Hoover went to Edison’s reconstructed Menlo Park Laboratory. Here they met with Edison’s former assistant, Francis Jehl, for a re-enactment of Edison’s creation of the first successful incandescent light bulb 50 years before. Modern subtitles have been added to compensate for the primitive late 1920s sound recording of the event. Many thanks to The Henry Ford for preserving these moments. More can be found here.


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1879: Money, Soap and Light

Folks who are familiar with Crane & Co. understand that 1879 was a big year. It was in 1879 that Crane was awarded its first contract to manufacture paper for United States currency. Crane has won every competitive bid since then.

And 1879 was a big year for at least two Crane customers you may be familiar with.

Proctor Gamble letterhead 1880

William Proctor & James Gamble founded the company in 1837 in Cincinnati and produced modest amounts of candles and soaps for the Midwest market. It was left to the next generation to make the first breakthrough product in 1879 that would launch Proctor & Gamble onto the national and world stage:

Ivory soap drawing

From the modest beginnings of a soap that floats and is 99 44/100 percent pure, Proctor & Gamble today operates in 80 countries and generates revenues in excess of $82 billion.

In 1879, the world became a little brighter, as Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light. Edison had used Crane papers for his experiments for quite some time. Here is just one such invention:


George Bliss, who wrote the instruction manual for the Electric Pen, recommended Crane’s Bank Folio:

Edison Electric Pen bank folio

Edison’s Electric Pen never really caught on, but Edison evidently appreciated the quality of Crane’s papers, as he continued to order them. In this case Crane’s Parchment paper. For which of his inventions, we may never know, but there are more documents in the Crane archives yet to explore!


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Une armée Voyages sur son estomac

One of the earliest customers of the Liberty Paper Mill – August 19, 1770 – was Henry Quincy of Boston. He didn’t buy much (a ream of whitish-brown paper) so his influence on the mill was minimal, but his ability to acquire provisions for a special dinner in 1778 may very well have had a profound impact on the outcome of the Revolutionary War.

The Battle for Rhode Island – it was actually the battle for Aquidneck Island – was a joint venture between the American Army and French Navy on August 28, 1778. There were losses on both the British and French/American sides, and both claimed victory. However, the failure of the French Navy to win a clear victory and land at Newport led to a great deal of resentment – even some fisticuffs – when the fleet returned to Boston. The animosity among the Americans and the French in Boston threatened France’s future participation in the war.

Stepping in to douse the flames was John Hancock,  a resident of Beacon Hill in Boston. Hancock hurriedly tried to assuage the angry French soldiers, inviting them to his mansion every day for meals and throwing them a ball.

Times were tough in Boston; there were shortages of all sorts of goods and supplies, but especially fine food for the French to dine upon. Hancock turned to Henry Quincy, formerly a Boston merchant now in Providence:

dear Sir:

The Hancock House on Beacon Hill

The Philistines are coming upon me on Wednesday next at Dinner. To be Serious, the Ambassador &c, &c, &c, are to dine with me on Wednesday, and I have nothing to give them, nor from the present prospect of our Market do I see that I shall be able to get anything in Town; I must beg the fav’r of you to Recommend to my Man Harry where he can get some Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Hams, Partridges, Mutton, or any thing that will save my Reputation in a Dinner, and by all means some Butter; Be so good as to help me, and you will much oblige me; is there any good mellons or Peaches, or any good fruit, near you? Your advice to Harry will much oblige me; Excuse me, I am verytroublesome; Can I get a good Turkey; I walk’d in Town to-day; I dine on board the French Frigate to-morrow; so you see how I have Recovered.

God bless you; if you see any thing good at Providence, do Buy it for me. I am Your Real friend John Hancock.

Many more meals were served at the Hancock house, with provisions from Henry Quincy, who just happened to be Dorothy Quincy Hancock’s brother. Many credit John Hancock’s efforts (and Dorothy’s as well!) with keeping the French involved in the war.




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