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ElizabethClark
08-29-2006, 02:07 PM
Here's a question, because it's had my knickers in a twist for a good long while: though the term "sutler" is bandied about to refer to any provider of goods or services to the hobby, does it really apply to most businesses?

I'm interested in other's opinions on this one. To my understanding, a sutler is a specific *sort* of merchant: a citizen-contractor with the military, to provide goods (often at military-set prices) to soldiers. They have restrictions on what items they can and cannot carry, how indebted a soldier is allowed to become, etc.

With that definition, most of the merchants serving the hobby are not, after all, sutlers. They may be merchants, vendors, milliners, dressmakers, drygoods salesmen, mercantiles, peddlers... any number of things besides a "sutler". "Merchant Row" might be a far better label for the hobby shopping center.

Thoughts, contradictions, better definitions?

AZReenactor
08-29-2006, 02:16 PM
But, as you know, there are a lot of reenactorisms in the hobby and this is another one. Nowdays "sutler" has come to mean simply a merchant who primarily sells their wares to reenactors. Far from descriptive or historicaly accurate, but defiinatly in common usage.

I for one, always appreciate authentic sutlers who can actually provide the government approved baubles a soldier needs. Blacking, rotten stone, and razor strops can be hard to find at times.

II. AN ACT to provide for the appointment of sutlers in the volunteer service, and to define their duties.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the inspectors-general of the Army shall constitute a board of officers, whose duty it shall be to prepare, immediately after the passage of this act, a list or schedule of the following articles which may be sold by sutlers to the officers and soldiers of the volunteer service, to wit: Apples, dried apples, oranges, figs, lemons, butter, cheese, milk, sirup, molasses, raisins, candles, crackers, wallets, brooms, comforters, boots, pocket looking glasses, pins, gloves, leather, tin wash basins, shirt buttons, horn and brass buttons, newspapers, books, tobacco, cigars, pipes, matches, blacking, blacking brushes, clothes brushes, tooth brushes, hair brushes, coarse and fine combs, emery, crocus, pocket handkerchiefs, stationery, armor oil, sweet oil, rotten stone, razor strops, razors, shaving soap, soap, suspenders, scissors, shoe strings, needles, thread, knives, pencils, and Bristol brick. Said list or schedule shall be subject, from time to time, to such revision and change as, in the judgment of the said board, the good of the service may require: Provided, always, That no intoxicating liquors shall at any time be contained therein, or the sale of such liquors be in any way authorized by said board. A copy of said list or schedule, and of any subsequent change therein, together with a copy of this act, shall be, without delay, furnished by said board to the commanding officer of each brigade and of each regiment not attached to any brigade in the volunteer service, and also to the Adjntant.General of the Army.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That immediately upon the receipt from said board of said list or schedule and copy of this act by the commanding officer of any such brigade, the acting brigadier-general, surgeon, quartermaster, and commissary of said brigade shall constitute a board of officers whose duty it shall be to affix to each article in said list or schedule a price for said brigade, which shall be by them forthwith reported to the commanding officer of the division, if any, to which said brigade is attached, for his approval, with or without modification, and who shall, after such approval, report the same to the inspectors-general, and the same, if not disapproved by them, shall be the price not exceeding which said articles may be sold to the officers and soldiers in said brigade. Whenever any brigade shall not be attached to a division, said prices shall then be reported directly to the inspectors-general, and if approved by them shall be the price fixed for such brigade as aforesaid; and whenever any regiment shall be unattached to any brigade, the acting colonel,lieutenant-colonel, major, and captains thereof shall constitute the board of officers by whom the l)rice of said articles shall be fixed for said regiment in the same manner as is herein provided for an unattached brigade. The prices so fixed may be changed by said boards respectively from time to time, not oftener than once in thirty days, bnt all changes therein shall be reported in like manner and for the same purpose as when originally fixed.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the commanding officer of each brigade, immediately upon receipt of a copy of said list or schedule and copy of this act, as herein provided, to cause one suPer for each regiment in his brigade to be selected by the commissioned officers of such regiment, which selection shall be by him reported to the Adjutant-General of the Army; the person so selected shall be sole sutler of said regiment. And the commanding officer of each unattached regiment shall, in like manner, cause a selection of a sutler to be made for said regiment, who shall be sole sutler of said regiment. Any vacancy iii the office of sutler from any cause shall be filled in the same way as an original appointment.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That the sutlers chosen in the manner provided in the preceding section shall be allowed a lien only upon the pay of the officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates of the regiment for which he has been chosen, or those stationed at the post to which he has been appointed, and for no greater sum than one-sixth of the monthly pay of each officer, non-commissioned officer, or private, for articles sold during each month; and the amount of one-sixth or less than one-sixth of the pay of such officer, non-commissioned officer, or private, 50 sold to him by the sutler, shall be charged on the pay-rolls of such officer, non-commissioned officer, or private, and deducted from his pay, and paid over by the paymaster to the sutler of the regiment or military post, as the case may be: Provided, That if any paymaster in the service of the United States shall allow or pay any greater sum to any sutler than that hereby authorized to be retained from the pay of the officers, non-commissioned officers, musicians, and privates, for articles sold by any sutler during any one month, then the amount so allowed or paid by the paymaster shall be charged against the said paymaster and deducted from his pay and returned to the officer, non-commissioned officer, musician, or private, against whom the amount was originally charged. And any captain or lieutenant commanding a company who may certify any pay-roll bearing a charge in favor of the sutler against any officer, non-commissioned officer, musician, or private, larger or greater than one-sixth of the monthly pay of such officer, non-commissioned officer, musician, or private, shall be punished at the discretion of a court-martial: Provided, however, That sutlers shall be allowed to sell only the articles designated in the list or schedule provided in this act and none others, and at prices not exceeding those affixed to said articles, as herein provided: And provided further, That the sutlers shall have no legal claim upon any officer, non-commissioned officer, musician, or private, to an amount exceeding one-sixth of his pay for articles sold during any month. He shall keep said list or schedule, together with a copy of this act, fairly written or printed, posted up in some conspicuous part of the place where he makes said sales, and where the same can be easily read by any person to whom he makes said sales.

SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the inspectors-general to cause the place of sale and articles kept for that purpose by said sutlers to be inspected from time to time, once in fifteen days at least, by some competent officer especially detailed for that duty, and such changes in said place or in the quality and character of the articles mentioned in said list or schedule so kept as shall be required by said officer shall be conformed to by each sutler. And such officer shall report each inspection to the inspectors-general.

SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That no person shall be permitted to act as a sutler unless appointed according to the provisions of this act; nor shall any person be sutler for more than one regiment; nor shall any sutler farm ont or underlet the business of sutling or the privileges granted to him by his appointment; nor shall any officer of the Army receive from any sutler any money or other presents; nor be interested in any way in the stock, trade, or business of any sutler; and any officer receiving such presents, or being thus interested, directly or indirectly, shall be punished at the discretion of a court-martial. No sutler shall sell to an enlisted man on credit to a sum exceeding one-fourth of his monthly pay witliin the same month; nor shall the regimental quartermasters allow the use of Army wagons for sutlers’ purposes; nor shall the quartermasters’ conveyances be used for the transportation of sutlers’ supplies.

SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That any sutler who shall violate any of the provisions of this act shall, by the colonel, with consent of the council of administration, be dismissed from the service and be ineligible to a reappointment as sutler in the service of the United States.

Approved March 19, 1862.

By order of the Secretary of War:

L. THOMAS,
Adjutant- General.

NoahBriggs
08-29-2006, 02:28 PM
Does it really apply to most businesses?

Strictly speaking, not really, and I concur with your definition of what a sutler is.

Still, I expect it will still be bandied about as a 20th/21st century verbal shortcut reference for vendor, merchant or the like who sells reproductions of material culture items likely (or not) to be found in the era we portray. I gather over on "the other side" (as we members of the AC "Dark Side" Forum are euphemistically referred to) we endeavor to correct that line of thinking, to replace "sutler" with "approved vendors."

The WWII crowd calls their "vendors" just that - vendors. What we refer to as "sutler row" is the "flea market". At larger events the flea market will take up several buildings, and, like our vendors, will range from spot-on repops to things which sort of go with the era. (If you can stretch your imagination that far.)

We know some folks who do correct sutlers in period-correct context - Bill MacIntosh and Charles Heath come to mind, though I am certain there are more (Somebody Crabtree? :oops: ). They have some great setups and they offer good prices. Usually anything from Heath is "free" because the cost of the items is included in your initial registration fee. Just remember to keep your tokens or chits handy. :rolleyes:

Michael Schaffner took the time to print up a correct sutler's warrant for Heath at Winter of 64 - a document which must be displayed by the sutler as proof he is authorized by the Federal government to sell to that particular regiment. Heath displayed his proudly at Winter of 64.

And that wears out what little I know on the subject.

southern_belle1861
08-29-2006, 02:41 PM
I think you summed it up quite nicely.
Before I entered the hobby, I had always wondered why they called merchants who made and sold dresses and the like at reenactments, "sutlers". I am still at a loss as to why they call a merchant who sells non-military things a sutler.

Linda Trent
08-29-2006, 03:03 PM
Here's a question, because it's had my knickers in a twist for a good long while...
They may be merchants, vendors, milliners, dressmakers, drygoods salesmen, mercantiles, peddlers... any number of things besides a "sutler".

What's had my knickers in a twist has been the use of the term "mercantile," as a noun. ;) I've seen it in period stuff as an adjective such as, "he's in the merchantile business," rather than synonymous to the word store. I was just wondering what other's have found in this regard?

Here are a few examples from Vicki Betts' newspaper collections:

"...grocers, dry goods stores, forwarding, commission, and all other mercantile houses..."

"Two or three mercantile firms..."

"...having been engaged in the mercantile business..."

"...prominently engaged in the mercantile profession..."

Have others seen it in the sense of "I'm going shopping at Mr. Jones' Mercantile."?

Linda.

Bummer
08-29-2006, 04:29 PM
I'd say that merchants who cater mostly to soldiers, with military goods etc., can truly be called sutlers these days, but at larger events where there is a myriad of dealers, I call the merchants, and the large conglomeration with several streets worth, as the merchant's village or sometimes simply 'the town' or 'the village'. Sutler's row conjures up the image of a few soldierly shanties selling odds and ends at greatly inflated prices. But the village on the other hand may contain any number of establishments which might cater to any 19th century person and even a few that offer period refreshments of various sorts such as food or drink.
I do enjoy strolling through one of these large villages, particularly in the evening when things look better, just taking in the sights, looking at the well dressed women, running into old friends, and occasionally seeing something I must purchase as I browse.

Spence Waldron~

AZReenactor
08-29-2006, 04:48 PM
I think you summed it up quite nicely.
Before I entered the hobby, I had always wondered why they called merchants who made and sold dresses and the like at reenactments, "sutlers". I am still at a loss as to why they call a merchant who sells non-military things a sutler.

It seems to me just as ironic and odd to call a fellow selling issue items (uniforms & accoutrements) a sutler.

ElizabethClark
08-29-2006, 04:59 PM
Hmmm... Linda, you've piqued my curiosity on Mercantile as a word synonomous with store... I'll have to keep my eye out for that when reading. I've been meaning to email you about your post on the CW-Citizens list about this very thing, as I've not been able to open the message in the archives, and I've been dying to read your thoughts... and I think you just gave 'em to me! :)

Alright, so one thing *any* event could do to increase the historic flair of the setup is to re-name the shopping district something OTHER than Sutler Row... The Village, or The Market, or something else that specifies the general shopping/fair nature of the setup.

Mr. Groves, great excerpt on sutler regulations! Thank you!

Mr. Briggs: it's Beth and John Crabb, doing business as Ezra Barnhouse. :) http://www.ezrabarnhousegoods.com

Linda Trent
08-29-2006, 05:48 PM
Hmmm... Linda, you've piqued my curiosity on Mercantile as a word synonomous with store... I'll have to keep my eye out for that when reading.

Actually, our 1853 Webster's Dictionary of the English Language gives mercantile as an adjective, along with the following:


1. Trading; commercial; carrying on commerce; as, mercantile nations; the mercantile class of men.

2. Pertaining or relating to commerce or trade; as, mercantile business.

What about calling the commercial area, the "mercantile district"? or as you suggested, Elizabeth, "Merchants Row"?

Linda

Doug Cooper
08-29-2006, 07:11 PM
Many units (and the AC) term their list of merchants supporting the hobby as an "approved vendor list." They are also referred to as "makers." "Sutler" is or ought to be reserved for those vendors who have a period Sutler impression. "Sutler Row" is probably always going to be with us however, whether the folks are selling toy guns or handsewn RD 2 jackets.

They are all business men and women, a fact that is important to keep in mind as their families depend on us...but that's another thread.

GreencoatCross
08-29-2006, 08:07 PM
As a maker of reproduction garments, it irks me to even refer to myself or my business at a "sutler" or "sutlery." I cannot recall ever saying that out loud to someone either here in town while explaining just why I'm sewing at a local park or coffee shop or even while chatting with customers, enthusiasts, and collectors.

For me personally, the moniker of "sutler," unless that is your IMPRESSION and you happen to do it well, is a complete laugh. I don't prefer to be called a tailor either because no, I have not recieved formal training as such and I feel that for me to take on that mantle without training would be an injustice to the real students of that art. So for the time being, until I achieve tailor certification, I usually refer to myself as a vendor, clothier, or just say "I make Civil War stuff." The latter usually keeps the unknowledgable locals at bay....until they ask to try something on at least.

toptimlrd
08-29-2006, 08:16 PM
I am actually enjoying this conversation and it is something I never really thought about. At most mainstream reenactments it is just as common to hear the (ugh) 21st century euphamism "the mall" when referring to the vendor area. I am guilty of this from time to time as well as "sutlers", "sutler row", and (pardon the somewhat disrespectful term to those of you who do not fit the stereotype) "skinner row". Let's face it this is probably a reenactorism that is going to be with us for a long time. When we look at the web sites for events, they are referred to as sutlers regardless of the merchandise they carry.

As to the word mercantile, I have seen it used as both adjective and noun. It's root is the Italian mercante (merchant) so it's root is that of a noun, but it may also be used as an adjective such as the mercantile exchange. In the english dictionary it is referred to as an adjective.

Linda Trent
08-29-2006, 09:19 PM
As to the word mercantile, I have seen it used as both adjective and noun. It's root is the Italian mercante (merchant) so it's root is that of a noun, but it may also be used as an adjective such as the mercantile exchange. In the english dictionary it is referred to as an adjective.

Hi Robert,

Are you saying that you've seen the word mercantile used in the period, or in modern usage? I'm really curious about the context in the period. It's long been my contention that it's used primarily by people who think it sounds old timey, and I'd honestly like to see some documentation to its use in the period as a synonym to the word store.

Mercantile is in a common English form of adjectives like infant & infantile, service & servile. But that is really a moot point, because what we need to do is look at how the word was actually used in the 1860s. And that's what I'm looking for, is the context in which the word is used as a noun.

Thanks,

Linda

Tom Scoufalos
08-30-2006, 06:47 AM
"Sutler" is or ought to be reserved for those vendors who have a period Sutler impression. "Sutler Row" is probably always going to be with us however, whether the folks are selling toy guns or handsewn RD 2 jackets.



I agree. I tend to simply say "vendor". The use of the word "sutler" nowadays is analagous to genericization of brand names such as Kleenex, Band Aids, Kool-Aid, Jello, &cet.

AZReenactor
08-30-2006, 11:12 AM
Are you saying that you've seen the word mercantile used in the period, or in modern usage? I'm really curious about the context in the period. It's long been my contention that it's used primarily by people who think it sounds old timey, and I'd honestly like to see some documentation to its use in the period as a synonym to the word store.

Linda,
You make a very good point. Even today, most dictionaries identify mercantile as an adjective rather than a noun in correct usage. It does seem to be employed incorrectly today when someone wishes to sound "old timey", rural, or uneducated. It would seem to make more sense to avoid the slang usage until it can be documented as being period correct.

The OED entry for its use as a noun is as follows:


B. n.

1. A merchant; a person engaged in trade or commerce. rare.

1813 J. AUSTEN Let. 14 Oct. (1995) 237 A great rich mercantile Sir Robert Wigram. 1921 Chambers's Jrnl. July 440/1 With the exception of the nobility..and of the mercantiles..alpargatas, or string-soled shoes, are the footwear of the Spanish nation. 1948 Jrnl. Polit. 10 824 Rather because of the strong conviction..that the China trade would never become necessary or even important to the British economy, did the Foreign Office refuse to ‘kowtow’ to the demands of the mercantiles. 1980 Pacific Affairs 53 552 When the present reviewer spoke of such matters in the Military Government of Hong Kong in 1945, they were simply incomprehensible to the officials and mercantiles.
2. U.S. = mercantile store, sense A. 5.

1984 J. A. PHILLIPS Machine Dreams 67 He pictured her receiving news, tidbits of stories, at the bank, at the mercantile. 1988 L. ERDRICH Tracks (1989) iii. 37, I liked to sit out there and watch the road to see the design of people on their errands, to church and town..the girls walking to the mercantile by twos, bearing cans of precious cream between them. 1993 W. BALDWIN Hard to catch Mercy iii. 85, I felt secure enough to follow Uncle Jimmy inside the mercantile.

Even in the example from Jane Austen I would make the argument that she is using it as an adjective to describe Sir Robert Wigram as a person engaged in trade. Where is my 8th grade english teacher when I need her? ;)

Bummer
08-30-2006, 12:28 PM
I don't care for the words 'vender', 'flea market', 'mall', 'approved makers' or any other typically modern term. Let's use something that would fit into 19th century speech--please; so when we say 'I'm going up to the----'; or 'meet me at the-----', it could be said in a period context.

What did the people back then call the center of local commerce? That should be more along the lines of what WE should call the center of our local commerce too, wouldn't you think?

Spence Waldron~

hanktrent
08-30-2006, 12:39 PM
1813 J. AUSTEN Let. 14 Oct. (1995) 237 A great rich mercantile Sir Robert Wigram...

I've seen that usage in the period in things like "Mercantile Battery" or "Mercantile Library" (like from Vicki Betts' newspapers at http://www.uttyl.edu/vbetts/newspaper_titles.htm ) which I've always guessed to be meant like "businessmen's battery" meaning made up of the mercantile class.


1988 L. ERDRICH Tracks (1989) iii. 37, I liked to sit out there and watch the road to see the design of people on their errands, to church and town..the girls walking to the mercantile by twos, bearing cans of precious cream between them. 1993 W. BALDWIN Hard to catch Mercy iii. 85, I felt secure enough to follow Uncle Jimmy inside the mercantile.

That is exactly the way reenactors use it. Am I reading the dates of those citations correctly? They're from the 1980s/1990s? No earlier ones in the OED?

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

ElizabethClark
08-30-2006, 01:14 PM
Spence, I think we'd be fine calling them Shops... "I'm going shopping--would you care to come?" "I've got to run over to the shop and pick up some sewing cotton..." "Mrs. Nesbitt said the shop at the head of the street has very nice sausages in just now."

Merchant Street or Merchant Avenue sounds plausible as a street name/location... perhaps a little grandiose for a collection of tent shops, but... :)

Bummer
08-30-2006, 01:35 PM
Mrs. Clark,
I do agree with your terms and think they are the best suggestions so far.
Speaking of 'Merchant St.' I would mention that I noticed several folks at Cedar Creek, which has a good large shopping area, were getting to giving directions with impromtu street names; East Street, Cross Street, and so on. I thought that was a wonderfully effective way of doing things in the larger commercial areas. The civilian residental streets started one block over from West St. and should have also had names. Perhaps such a thing will catch on and the larger events will be replete with street name signs and store address numbers? I doubt it, but such a thing would sure help us find what we were looking for--so many times I have had to search long and hard for something I or a friend had seen, but could not describe where--often it was on a completely different street!

Spence Waldron~

historygal2
08-30-2006, 05:02 PM
Elizabeth,

I agree that "sutler" is a misnomer that does annoy me a little. People call me a sutler and I don't even sell military items! I think that "merchant" works much better and it is the term that I tend to use. "Vendor" works too, but it sounds awfully modern.

Regards,

Leslie

toptimlrd
08-30-2006, 06:57 PM
Hi Robert,

Are you saying that you've seen the word mercantile used in the period, or in modern usage? I'm really curious about the context in the period. It's long been my contention that it's used primarily by people who think it sounds old timey, and I'd honestly like to see some documentation to its use in the period as a synonym to the word store.

Mercantile is in a common English form of adjectives like infant & infantile, service & servile. But that is really a moot point, because what we need to do is look at how the word was actually used in the 1860s. And that's what I'm looking for, is the context in which the word is used as a noun.

Thanks,

Linda

Linda,

Excellent question. I seem to recall seeing a period picture of a sign once that had "xyz Mercantile" on it but for the life of me I can't remember where or when. By no means would I state unequivocally that it is period as my memory is not always accurate. It would just seem to me that since it's root was a noun, it would not be beyond reason that our 186X forefathers might not have similarly misused the word as so many of us do.

To me it is truly unfortunate that so many people completely butcher our language. I edit a newsletter and am married to a magazine editor and I simply can not believe how often we see blatant gammatical and syntax errors in submissions from supposedly professional writers. I am always willing to forgive typos (there are probably a couple in this posting); but many of the errors I find are not due to a slip of the finger on the keyboard but are from a lack of ability to properly write or use the English language.

ElizabethClark
08-30-2006, 09:02 PM
Leslie, I get called a "sutler" too--and I don't sell anything remotely useful to the male of the species over the age of five. :)

I participated in a large "smorgasboard" sort of club in Oregon, and one thing the citizenry did was lay out the tent town in streets and blocks; this was a lot of work for the civilian coordinator pre-event, and required people pre-register for their space, and assistants be on-site for registration and pointing folks to their designated spot, but it really was a pretty efficient way to lay out the citizen camp... the group operated on the "tent town" method to deal with sleeping/living arrangements for citizens at sites with no usable buildings.

Multiple "dwellings" shared each fire, so that increased safety, too--the fires were small, and served up to five families each, which really cut down on the ground disturbance, and increased the number of adults available to keep an eye on the fires at all times.

Mint Julep
08-30-2006, 09:12 PM
Leslie, I get called a "sutler" too--and I don't sell anything remotely useful to the male of the species over the age of five.

Au contraire, Mrs. Clark,

You provided me a fine linen handkerchief with my initials embroidered upon it that I might exchange with a certain young lady for a lock of her hair as a keepsake.

I don't know if she has retained the notion, but I retain the braided lock.

And I still recall your kind, encouraging words regarding that endeavor.

Mint Julep

Crabby
08-30-2006, 09:44 PM
Elizabeth Clark : "Mr. Briggs: it's Beth and John Crabb, doing business as Ezra Barnhouse. http://www.ezrabarnhousegoods.com"

Thank you Elizabeth.

We portray either a sutler (military context) or a travelling peddler dependant on the event and the needs of the senario.

As a sutler we do not sell military items (those items are the resposibility of the Quartermaster department). We do sell comfort items, and non military neccesities. (we even carry rotten stone and blacking)

As a peddler/shop keeper we also carry items for the ladies, farmers and the like.

We research every item we sell and do not sell non period or "touristy" items.

We don't do this just as a money making venture, but it is our impression when we attend events.

NoahBriggs
08-31-2006, 05:53 AM
To Mr. Collett:

". . . a lack of ability to properly write or use the English language . . ."

revised:

" . . . a lack of ability to write or use the English language properly. . . "

Mind them split infinitives. You might get syntax splinters. And I say that not to pick on you; merely to say I agree, sometimes they escape the rest of us, too. :D Like yourself, I too get annoyed with the small errors which slip past. :rolleyes: Ah, well. Moving right along.

To Mr. Crabb and Mrs. Clark:
Thanks for your corrections. I am merely grateful my d---d seive which supposedly passes for a brain even remembered your name. Thank you for correcting me, and I hope to see the Barnhouse Mercantile Establishment at a future event. ;)

ElizabethClark
08-31-2006, 08:57 AM
Mint, that hankercheif is on account of your own sweet self, rather than a regularly produced item. :) I have yenta genes somewhere in the dark reaches of the past.

Noah, from the correspondance I've had with Mrs. Crabb, and various images I've seen of the Barnhouse set-up, you're in for a treat to see them at an event!

NoahBriggs
08-31-2006, 09:19 AM
I look forward to seeing the shop! :)

Robert A Mosher
08-31-2006, 09:20 AM
I did take a look at my Oxford dictionary and found that 'sutler' actually dates back to the 1600s and comes from a Dutch word. In English it pretty quickly came to mean a business or businessperson who sold goods to the Army, so by the Civil War there would have been little doubt as to what a Sutler was and did.

At the risk of broadening the discussion beyond recognition, I thought it would be interesting to look at some period advertisements for an idea as to how businesses identified themselves (and their wares). These, of course, should not extrapolated too widely as they represent a very small geographic and chronological sampling - one city on one day.

I notice that almost all advertisers are identified by business names that consist wholly of the names of the proprieter(s) without any further appelation to identify trade, merchandise, etc. In other words – no mercantile, bookdealer, etc. Now, this does not mean that they will would not include such information on a sign attached to their place of business, but it suggests that it was not a part of the name of the business. The newspaper advertisements make the nature of trade clear simply by the products being offered. I thought it might also be of interest to see some of the goods advertised and how they are described.

The following merchants placed advertisements in the March 14, 1862 Boston Morning Journal and identified themselves and their wares as follows:

Theo C. Weeks, Agent for the N. Hayward Company and Sayles & Bailey, selling “Bailey’s India Rubber Spring Rolls for Washing and Wringing Machines [This was one of a number of advertisers offering washing machines and accessories. There were also two or three merchants offering different types of sewing machines for sale.]

Wellington & Weld, Importers and Dealers, offering “For Cash. Fine Old Bourbon, Rye and Wheat Whiskies, Pure Wines, Brandies, &c.

Clark Brewer & Sons, offering “United States Volunteer Tobacco”

Marsh’s Hosiery and Thread Store, offering “Sub-Carpet Felt”

Lucesco Oil Company, Pittsburg, PA., “manufacture the best Illuminating Oil in the country, perfectly white, odorless, and non-explosive”

J.F. Dodge, ‘Manufacturer of Extra Burning Fluid; Dealer in Alcohol, Camphene, Coal Oil, Lamp Chimneys, Wicks and Cans”

C. K Darling’s, placed various advertisements for pocket inkstands, Quills, and diaries for 1862.

Oak Hall, placed advertisements for “Boy’s Clothing,” “Men and Boy’s Clothing, Furnishing Goods, &c.,” and “Outfits for Naval and Military Departments.”

C.F. Hathaway & Co.’s Gentlemen’s Furnishing Store offered shirts, stocks and neck ties, line and patent paper collars, shirt bosoms, cuffs, linen, cloht and shirt materials of every kind, gloves, supenders, undergarments, hosiery, &c, &c. and would accept orders for custom shirts, collars, stocks, ties, &c.

S.H. Pearce & Co. offered “Japanned silks, oiled silks”

H. Plimpton offered “Hoop skirts of the best quality and latest styles”

Read Gardner & Co. offered “Norway Plains Company Blankets in all their varities: Gonic, Columbia, Premium, Army, Navy, as well as Flannels, Piano cloths, Bockings, &c.”

J. C. Converse & Co. offered “For Contrabands, Plaid and striped Onaburgs, Kerseys, Linseys and other articles suitable for negro wear”

Henry P. Bliss & Co. offered”Black Silks, Plain, Medium, and Small Figures, at low prices”

Morey’s offered “Hosiery, Gloves, and Undergarments. French, English, German and American, and Kid Gloves, The Best Imported, Sold at 75c, 88c, and $1 per pair”
Benjamin Jacobs offered “New Linen Goods! Linen sheeting, Pillow and Shirting Linens, all widths and qualities; Linen Damask and Damask Table cloths, all qualities; Dinner and table Napkins; Turkish and Fancy Toweling; together with an extensive assortment of Housekeeping Goods”

Franklin Shirt Company offered “Every Variety of Woven Tape Skirts, constantly on hand, to which we invite the attention of the Country Trade.”

J. M. Beebe & Co. offered “Linens, Housekeeping and White Goods!” A Complete Assortment Recently Landed from Stocks Purchased abroad under favorable circumstances, and also 15,000 American and Turkish QUILTS” as well as “Hosiery, Haberdashery, and Small Wares Adapted to all Classes of Trade, and in Great Variety

George H. Lane offered “Men’s and Boys’ Clothing,” – Pants, Coats, Vests,

Thwing & Collins (consisting apparently of Charles H. Thwing and Chester A. Collins) offered “New Goods!” “comprising every fabric adapted to a first class trade—among which may be found: Twelve pieces English Meltons; seven pieces French and German Fancy Mixtures, selected for Business Suits, which we will make to order in the most stylish and thorough manner for twenty-four dollars. Nearly 300 different styles Cassimeres and Doeskins for Pants, price from six to eight dollars. Fancy Silk, Cashmere and Cloth Vestings, in great variety. Large assortment of French, English and German Coatings, for Sacks. Walking Coats; Spring Overcoats, &c. Broadcloths and Doeskins from the best Manufacturies in Europe, for Dress Suits. We have a superior German Black Cloth fromw which we make Dress Frocks for seventeen dollars. German Black Doeskin Pants for six dollars.”

Robert A. Mosher



.

Linda Trent
08-31-2006, 05:38 PM
At the risk of broadening the discussion beyond recognition, I thought it would be interesting to look at some period advertisements for an idea as to how businesses identified themselves (and their wares). These, of course, should not extrapolated too widely as they represent a very small geographic and chronological sampling - one city on one day.

I was also looking at old papers yesterday, and held off on my findings until I had done a bit more research, in a few books. Your findings match mine pretty much. Most of my research comes from a three day span of the Frankfort [KY] Commonwealth during the first few issues of September '64, the Wheeling Intelligencer March 1863, and a year's worth of the Gallipolis [OH] Journal 1863 (entire year copied from microfilm), as well as other newspapers, periodicals, and books. What I find to be most common is simply the word "store."


Spence wrote: so when we say 'I'm going up to the----'; or 'meet me at the-----', it could be said in a period context.

Here is just one of hundreds of samples of the word "store" used in period context with "I'm going up to the -----" or "meet me at the -----."

"I can be found at Sann's Drug Store, Aleshire's Mill, or Henking's Store, for a few days only..." this quote was chosen at random from the Gallipolis Journal Sept. 17, 1863, on microfilm.

I love old newspapers! ;)

Linda.

toptimlrd
08-31-2006, 09:03 PM
[QUOTE=NoahBriggs]To Mr. Collett:

". . . a lack of ability to properly write or use the English language . . ."

revised:

" . . . a lack of ability to write or use the English language properly. . . "

Mind them split infinitives. You might get syntax splinters. And I say that not to pick on you; merely to say I agree, sometimes they escape the rest of us, too. :D Like yourself, I too get annoyed with the small errors which slip past. :rolleyes: Ah, well. Moving right along.

Touche. That's what I get for writing when I was extremely fatigued. I added the clause "to use" after I had written the post and didn't move the "properly" as I should have. Oh well, I need to go and clean the egg of my glasses.

RJSamp
08-31-2006, 09:27 PM
[QUOTE=NoahBriggs]To Mr. Collett:

Oh well, I need to go and clean the egg of my glasses.

egg OFF of my glasses?

toptimlrd
08-31-2006, 10:06 PM
[QUOTE=toptimlrd]

egg OFF of my glasses?

I usually forgive typos especially when one is typing with egg on their face ;-). See my original post. If I were to post some of the things that comes in for publication, it would be very embarrassing for the writers.

Donna
09-03-2006, 09:33 AM
I agree with the general trend of this thread. I think that in the beginning of this thing called Civil War Re-enacting there were probably not that many vendors. Using the term Sutler was just a way to help get folks into the period ways of speaking and it was probably more accurate than today.
Just my 2-cents,

Donna

CarterandJasper
09-05-2006, 10:11 AM
Very interesting and close to home discussion! I, too, get tired of being called a sutler as a general term. I do sometimes portray a post sutler that is attached to the army, but most the time time offer general wares in my "store" or "mercantile establishment". As for the use of those words, I did a quick online search and found a building in 1870 that was listed on the sign as being a "mercantile." I haven't spent more time looking or found anything earlier, but that caught my eye.

As for the use of the word mercantile in my name, it's more of an adjective describing what I offer.

hanktrent
09-05-2006, 10:55 AM
As for the use of those words, I did a quick online search and found a building in 1870 that was listed on the sign as being a "mercantile."

Could you give a link? Or at least a clue what search engine and search phrase you used?

Only relevant thing I found with a google image search for mercantile 1870 was a partially dead link to an image of the LDS Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution building, an enterprise unique to the Mormon situation and another adjectival use.

I'd really like to take a look at the image you're referring to.


As for the use of the word mercantile in my name, it's more of an adjective describing what I offer.

That's exactly the usage we're discussing, though, isn't it: "Proper Name Mercantile" as the name of a store?

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

CarterandJasper
09-05-2006, 11:04 AM
Hank,

I found it in the photos of the Library of Congress. Try this link, but if it doesn't work, try the LOC prints and images index and type in the search of "mercantile."

Note that the image is from the 1970's, but the company and store was founded in 1870.

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/displayPhoto.pl?path=/pnp/habshaer/id/id0000/id0023/photos&topImages=060333pr.jpg&topLinks=060333pv.jpg,060333pu.tif&title=1.%20%20Duane%20Garrett,%20Photographer%2019 76%20EAST%20(FRONT)%20ELEVATION%20%3cbr%3eHABS%20I D,8-IDCI,8-1&displayProfile=0

hanktrent
09-05-2006, 11:23 AM
Note that the image is from the 1970's, but the company and store was founded in 1870.

The link worked just fine. Thanks!

So I wonder what the sign read in 1870? What were folks actually calling it then? That's the key to the whole issue.

Interestingly enough, a regular google search for the name of the company indicates it's now considered to have been founded in 1865, for example http://www.emmettidaho.com/contentDetail.aspx?region=21&ContentID=1190 , so that part of the sign photographed in 1976 is "wrong" (or the 1865 founding date is wrong).

If we start seeing primary source evidence of stores being called "mercantiles" in the far west in the 1860s/1870s, then that's an angle to explore. Maybe the lack of references in the east is a geographic split in the period, but the popularity of westerns made 20th century people think the usage had always been nationwide. Dunno.

First step, though, is finding primary sources of the usage that could not have been contaminated with 20th century mindset about what old timey stores should be called. Then we can begin thinking about geographic or cultural differences.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Linda Trent
09-05-2006, 03:02 PM
but most the time time offer general wares in my "store" or "mercantile establishment". As for the use of those words,
As for the use of the word mercantile in my name, it's more of an adjective describing what I offer.

I did a search a while back, in my period newspapers, books, and other sources. The following is a list of hits for the term "mercantile" from the Ohio State Gazatteer and Business Directory, 1860-61. (http://www.hti.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=moa;cc=moa;type=boolean;rgn=works;q1=mercant ile;op2=and;op3=and;cite1=Ohio%20State;cite1restri ct=title;firstpubl1=1800;firstpubl2=1865;view=resl ist;subview=detail;sort=occur;start=1;size=25;didn o=AJA2907.0001.001)



p. 89 Bacon’s Mercantile College

p. 101 “J.J. Butler’s Excelsior Fluid Inks. Mercantile, for general purposes; Record, for Ledgers and Records; Copying, for Letter Press; Carmine, of brilliant hue; celebrated for 1st, intense black color, (at first of a greenish blue.) 2d, Easy flow from the pen. 3d, Permanency, (will never fade by exposure.) 4th, Economy. These Inks can be satisfactorily used to the last drop, other domestic inks in a brief time grow too thick for use, and are fit only to be thrown away before half consumed. The Carmine may be exposed to the action of the air without injury… Manufactured by J.J. Butler, Agent… For sale by all leading Stationers and Druggists.”

p. 101 Brooke C.F., agent John M. Bradstreet & Son’s improved mercantile and law agency.

p. 102 Brotherton & Co., Bankers and Dealers in Mercantile and Mortgage Papers

p. 106 Carnahan J.R., principal Ohio Mercantile College.

p. 142 Herold M., prin. Herold Mercantile Academy

p. 159 Under “Queen City Commercial College… Richard Nelson, Author of Nelson’s Mercantile Arithmetic.”

p. 217 Young Men’s Mercantile Library Association, Geo. A. Morris, librarian

p. 218 Circleville, a flourishing post city… It contains the county buildings, twelve churches, and numerous mercantile and manufacturing establishments.

p. 234 Dun R.G. & Co., mercantile agency

p. 316 Delphos, an important post village… contains twenty-four mercantile establishments and various manufactories.

p. 365 Moore Wm., principal mercantile college

p. 402 Lima, A prominent post village… contains… fifteen mercantile and various manufacturing establishments.

p. 413 McArthur, An important post town… contains… a variety of mercantile and manufacturing establishments.

p. 462 Newark, A prominent post town… contains…numerous mercantile and manufacturing establishments.

p. 496 Painesville, A prominent post town… contains…numerous mercantile and manufacturing establishments.

p. 514 Portsmouth, … numerous mercantile establishments

p. 542 Sandusky, it contains numerous and diversified mercantile and manufacturing establishments.

p. 553 Sidney, … contains the county buildings, and numerous manufacturing and mercantile establishments.

p. 576 Tiffin, … it contains the county buildings, and a great variety of mercantile and mechanical branches.

p. 631 Xenia… contains a variety of mercantile and manufacturing branches.

p. 637 Zanesville, A handsome and flourishing post city…a great variety of mercantile and manufacturing establishments.

p. 766 Mercantile is found listed under Commercial Colleges. Bacon’s Mercantile College, Cincinnati

p. 913 Under New York City Subscribers we have: Norton A.P., U.S. Mercantile Agency for Addressing Circulars, established in 1856. Classified lists of trades including names of Farmers and Planters. [same as below only actual listing is for Norton, A. P.]

p. 913 Under New York City Subscribers. U.S. Mercantile Agency, for Addressing Circulars, established in 1856. Classified lists of trades including names of Farmers and Planters.



It seems as though the most common term for a store that sold general merchandise was "general store." Though I have also seen references to more specialized places such as "dry goods," hardware, "drug store," apothecary, millinery, "wholesale & retail clothing merchants," "wholesale & retail grocers," etc.

I've also had the priviledge of looking through original store receipts from the 1850s (these are wholesale receipts of items actually purchased by C & A Henking dealer in plain and fancy goods here in Gallipolis, the records are in the Ohio State Archives in Columbus, and most typically they have "manufacturers of and wholesale dealers in [insert item]."

One of the receipts was from: "Casey & Mitchell, Importers & Wholesaler Jobbers in Variety Goods, Threads, Spool Cotton, Buttons, Pins and Needles, Cutlery, Jewelry, Watches, &c., &c." They were out of Pittsburg.

Harrison & Wilson have a sketch of their building on their invoice -- they're d.b.a. "Cincinnati Spice Mills" and the front of their four story building has beneath the upper most windows "Cincinnati" the next story down "Mustard, Coffee, & Spice Mills." And above the entranceway it reads "Harrison & Wilson."

Another receipt is from the "Western Produce Depot. Agent for the sale of Western Reserve Cheese, Butter, Dried Fruit, Fish and D. H. Lamb's and Th. M. Harding's Pure Saleratus" -- they considered themselves to be L.L. Harding, Wholesale Grocer, Commission and Forwarding Merchant.

There were literally hundreds of receipts ranging from window glass, to breweries and mineral water establishments. Henking himself sold according to the Gallipolis Journal of 1863: alcohol, building supplies, provisions, powder, stone fruit jars, lamps, paraffin candles...

It's interesting to note that never is C & A Henking ever identified on any of the shipping records as anything other than "C & A Henking, Gallipolis, Ohio." This includes when items were shipped by packet or by the B & O Rail Road. This leads me to wonder if most of the time people didn't have to say I'm going to Mr. X's store -- that the majority of the time people just said, "I'm going to the store." or "I'm going to Mr. Henking's." I think in context of people living in the community they knew that one was referring to Mr. Henking's store, and not his residence. ;)

Linda

Bummer
09-05-2006, 03:59 PM
Well, whatever we decide to call our commercial establishments, I do hope it is in keeping with a period term--I hate 'vendors', 'dealers', and such other modern terms.

SW~

BobWerner
09-06-2006, 11:21 AM
Actually, our 1853 Webster's Dictionary of the English Language gives mercantile as an adjective, along with the following:



What about calling the commercial area, the "mercantile district"? or as you suggested, Elizabeth, "Merchants Row"?

Linda

To expand what Linda and Elizabeth have already ably set forth, the following is taken from Websters "Thoroughly Revised, and Greatly Enlarged and Improved," version published by G. & C. Merriam & Co. and entered according to Act of Congress 1847, 1856, 1859, 1864, 1875 & 1879.

Mĕr΄ can • tĭle – (Synop., § 130), a . [ Fr. & It. Mercantile, Sp. & Pg. mercantil, from Lat. Mercanus, p. pr. of mercuri, to traffic. See MERCABLE. ] Pertaining to merchants, or the business of merchants; having to do with trade, or the buying and selling of commodities; commercial.
Syn. - MERCANTILE, COMMERCIAL. Commercial is the wider term, being sometimes used to embrace mercantile. In their stricter sense, commercial relates to the shipping, freighting, forwarding, and other business connected with the commerce of a country (whether external or internal), that is, the exchange of commodities, while mercantile applies to the sale of merchandise and goods when brought to market. As the two employments are to some extent intermingled, the two words are often interchanged. “The only procedure (that I may use the mercantile term) you can expect is thanks.” Howell.
“Every man thus lives by exchanging, or becomes in some measure a merchant; and the society itself grows to be what is properly a commercial society.” A. Smith.

Mĕr΄ ca • ble, a. [ Lat. Mercabilis, from mercari, to trade, traffic, buy, from merx, mercis, wares, merchandise.] Capable of being bought or sold. [Obs.]

Sŭt΄ ler, n. [D. zoetelaar, O. D. soeteler, a small trader, especially in camps, from soetelen, to undertake low offices; L. Ger. suddeln, söddeln, H. Ger. sudeln, to do dirty work, to sully, soil, sudelkoch, a sluttish or sultry cook.] A person who follows an army, and sells to the troops provisions, liquors, or the like.

Sŭt΄ ler-ship, n. The condition or occupation of a sutler.

Sŭt΄ ling, a. Belonging to sutlers; engaged in the occupation of a sutler.
Sutling-wench, a woman who follows the occupation of a sutler; female sutler.

Unfortunately, not all the punctuation and italics, etc., copied from MSWord as it had previously appeared. I had attempted to copy it as closely as possible to its appearance in the original dictionary.

Now, if one truly wishes to argue or debate the use of certain labels as identifiers, there's always that general misnomer of "REENACTOR" that doesn't seem to fit a large segment of those participating in this historical pursuit or pastime :-)

Respects to all,

georgia
09-07-2006, 08:13 PM
i thinit would be intersesting to see a store that used a wagon insted of a huge tent. thats what they really used to why the tents?
i guess more room = more money?

ElizabethClark
09-08-2006, 09:46 AM
There are a few folks who do a functional military sutler impression, complete with wagons and carts. For the citizenry, yes, some peddlers in the outlying areas did indeed use carts and wagons as their travelling emporium... it would absolutely be nifty to see someone do that! However, the sorts of goods a travelling peddler would sell in the period, and the sorts of things most merchants sell in Merchant Row, are very different things. :)