Academic journal article The Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association, Inc.

Letter to the Editor

Academic journal article The Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association, Inc.

Letter to the Editor

Article excerpt

Publication Date of Smith's Key

In reading Jean Stoll's excellent article about the tools George Washington obtained for Mount Vernon (The Chronicle, Volume 70 no. 2), I was surprised to read the caption to Figures 4 and 5 in which she states that "... Washington's agents in Virginia and in London may have used this popular guide to British tool manufacturers Joseph Smith's Explanation or Key to the Various Manufactories of Sheffield^ to choose products for purchase and provide an idea of the tools he was purchasing."

Smith's Key was first published in 1816, making it impossible for Washington's agents to have used it in purchasing tools for him. There were earlier tool catalogs (one of the earliest surviving English tool pattern catalogs was published ca. 1798), but none of them were as early as the 1760s-1770s period discussed in Stoll's article. Although Smith's Key does show how the tools purchased fifty years earlier might have appeared, it was not the source for Washington's purchases. …

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