Sheffield, England: 1875. Unbound. This illustrated partially-printed invoice on thin paper measures approximately 10” x 15.5” unfolded. It was prepared by William Jessop & Sons, Steel Manufactures of Sheffield, England for crucible steel sold to J. C. Hand & Company in Philadelphia. The document is dated February 7, 1875. It is annotated in black and red ink in a hand different from the drafter. A partially-printed two-page import certificate measuring about 5.5” x 9” is attached. It is signed by C. B. Webster, the United States Consul at Sheffield. This certificate bears a red wax/paper seal attached to a short green cord. Both documents are attached to a plain green trifold file cover sheet that reads in part: “Mch 15 75 / J C Hand & Co / Str ‘Kennelworth’ / from Lpool. . ..” In nice shape with a little wear. There is an old tape repair to the reverse of the green cover.
The invoice billhead contains three illustrations:
One shows a factory titled “Park|Works / Sheffield”
A second show a factory titled “Soho Mills / Sheffield”
The third which is larger than the other two shows a great complex of factories sitting astride a waterway and is titled “Brightside / Works / Sheffield”
Additionally. the billhead notes that the company has offices in Manchester and Paris, and that Jessop Depots were located in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Rhode Island.. Very good. Item #010118
Thomas and William Jessop began their steel business with other family members in 1830 just as the market for crucible steel in the United States began to increase. The family moved its business to a location in Sheffield’s Brightside area that included the site of a water works, and eventually encompassed 30 acres. Sheffield steel was highly regarded, especially by industries that required a high quality, especially pure, and exceptionally strong product. It dominated the US market until after the American Civil War when the combination of Great Lakes iron ore, cheap water transportation, and a seemingly limitless supply of Pennsylvania coal, iron caused the American steel industry to explode. Between 1875 and 1900, American steel production increased from one million to more than 10 million tons, and by 1910, the United States produced nearly 25 million tons each year, far more than any other country in the world.
(For more information, see “A Brief History of the American Steel Industry” at the National Material Company website, “The Brief History of Steel in Sheffield” at the DH Scaffold Services website, and “A History of ‘Steel City’” at the Sky History website.)
An impressive remnant from the days of Britain’s domination of the steel industry just before it was rapidly eclipsed by the United States..