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THE - PLIMPTON-PRESS NORWOOD MASS •U •S•A

PREFATORY NOTE

T

HE mercantile correspondence belonging to Hon. George Peabody Wetmore, selected documents from which have formed volumes LXIX and LXX of the printed COLLECTIONS of this Society, comprised more than three thousand pieces. Other known portions of the same records, located in the Newport Historical Society and in private collections of manuscripts, would bring the total to about four thousand five hundred pieces. It is believed that what has been printed is sufficient to indicate the character of the papers and their value for the study of colonial commerce in one of the most important of the trading ports of New England.

Not only did Mr. Wetmore obtain the collection, and thus save it from destruction, but he has very generously provided the means of publication; and has still further shown his interest in the papers and desire for their preservation, by presenting his collection to the Society. Within a short time these papers, to be known as the "Wetmore Collection,' will be bound and open to study by those who wish to carry their investigations of colonial commerce, and incidentally of colonial manufactures, beyond the limits necessarily set by the printed volumes. The historical richness of the material will thus be developed, and lead to a better understanding of the extent, direction and methods of the trade of the British colonies of North America, at a time when the colonial, or so-called "mercantile system," was being developed and applied. That some misunderstandings of that system, whether in its intention or in its results, still exist, is beyond question; and only the study of specific examples, such as abound in this Wetmore collection, will clear them.

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In aid of this study two collections of merchants' letters named in the Prefactory Note of the previous volume of COLLECTIONS will be useful, offering a wider field and at the same time special topics, like the tobacco trade of Virginia

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and Maryland. Further similar material on the commerce of New England exists in the following merchants' letter books in the Newport Historical Society:

THOMAS BANNISTER, 1695-1712.

THOMAS RICHARDSON, 1710-1715.

SAMUEL AND WILLIAM VERNON, 1732-1751, 2 vols.
JOHN BANNISTER, 1739-1750, 3 vols.
WILLIAM ELLERY, 1743-1759.
Aaron Lopez, 1767, 2 vols.
Samuel AyraULT, 1767-1778.
PELEG CLARKE, 1771-1782, 2 vols.
CHRISTOPHER CHAMPLIN, 1774-1804, 7 vols.
GIBBS AND CHANNING, 1797-1811, 4 vols.

BOSTON, October 1, 1915

WORTHINGTON CHAUNCEY FORD,

Editor.

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