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GOLD AND ANIMAL HOOF PIPE TAMPER INSCRIBED "NS/ I BIRKET 1749" THOUGHT TO HAVE BEEN ENGRAVED FOR JAMES BIRKETT, QUAKER MERCHANT OF THE BRITISH WEST INDIES.
Est. $600 - $900
SOLD: $1,680 ($1,400)

Fitted in a cylindrical carved horn case. Length of tamper 2 ½ inches.

James Birkett, originally from Lancaster, England, emigrated to the British West Indies as part of a missionary effort to establish Quakerism in Antigua and Tortola. A prominent Quaker merchant and partner in Birkett & Booth of St. Johns, Antigua, he traded with many of his counterparts in the North American colonies and counted among his friends and acquaintances, George Mifflin and Benjamin Franklin. In 1750 Birkett traveled to the colonies, beginning his journey in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he recorded detailed observations of the town, its inhabitants and their commerce. He continued this practice as he traveled south through towns and cities such as Boston, Newport, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. The manuscript of Birkett’s journal now resides in the collection of the Library of Congress and was published by Yale University in 1916 as “Some Cursory Remarks Made by James Birkett in His Voyage to North America, 1750-1751” and can be downloaded at this link: https://cdn.loc.gov/service/gdc/lhbtn/21242/21242.pdf

Birkett’s journal was originally found among the library of Dr. William Thornton (1759-1828), who was born in the West Indies and was Birkett’s nephew. Thornton, a physician and architect, is best known today as the designer of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.