[ The 'Bottle Trade' in eighteenth century England. ] Autograph Letter Signed ('Thos Dale') from Thomas Dale of Shields [ South Shields ] to Charles Wren of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, regarding the 'Bottle Trade', the Eden Treaty, and the 'Shields Houses'

Thomas Dale of Shields [ South Shields ] [ Charles Wren of Newcastle upon Tyne; the Eden Treaty, 1786 ]
Publication details: 
Shields [ South Shields, Northumberland ]. 27 February [ no year, circa 1786 ].
SKU: 19674

4pp., 4to. In fair condition, on aged and worn paper. An excellent letter on an unusual subject, written in forthright style. The author – who like the recipient is a member of the local mercantile community – gets down to business immediately: 'Sir | The late great demand for Bottles in England was the effect of Mr Pits [sic] commercial Treaty with France. A Bottle in France costs the Manufacturer nearly double to what an english Bottle costs, one reason of which is, the French have no other fuel than Newcastle Coals One Keel of Coal at Rochelle stands to twenty five Pounds; in the river Tyne one Keel stands the Bottle Manufacturer to about four Pounds.' He proceeds to discuss excise duty, English beer imported into France, merchants. He poses the question: 'should no infringement be made on this Treaty will the Bottle Trade continue to flourish, and be a desirable object of speculation? I answer, the profit which the English manufacturer now enjoys will gradually diminish, though even the French treaty should be protracted a Century. Glass Houses will be multiplied in England, & the loud clamour for Bottles will cease'. He recalls that sixteen years previously, when ('unfortunately for myself)' he became 'Wilsons private agent in London an Order for Bottles was obtained with great difficulty & much expense and tedious application did I use to conciliate the Friendship of Janson, who was always deem'd a very eligible Customer I at last succeeded & fix'd him totally to the Shields Houses. Mr Wilson paid me with very liberal promises, & Mr Deer without your interference will soon lose the valuable Customer I gain'd'. He presumes that the bottle trade 'will be slack this summer but flourish again on the approach of Winter.' He describes the 'vast local advantage' of the 'Shields Houses', as against the 'higher Houses'. He claims there are 'many enormous abuses', citing the fact that 'Mr Deer claims a Salary for no other reason that I know of than because he is Mr Deer.' He claims that Wilson has only ever paid Deer 'to make him hold his Tongue': 'if Mr Deer can produce any Book that he has kept for seven years back, or prove any good that he has done by advice &c he may lay claim to his Salary. I will declare Wilsons Sentiments upon my honour or if required sanction my declaration by a legal oath'.