Letters  from the Past
“ Money Talks ”, London to Munich 1836

This letter is addressed to
Richard George Clarke Esq
Chez Monsieur Havard au Cerf d ’or (Golden Stag)
Munich En Allemagne.

I find this rather strange, as the letter was addressed to Germany, so why was the address written in French?
This is a great cover for anyone interested in the postmarks, as there are a lot of them — eleven in fact! (Fig.1 clarke.jpg)

Beginning with the Twopenny post which was applied on the fold and is therefore not really legible, but it would probably be somewhere near Stoke Newington. London 2py post transfer stamp, London Foreign stamp, GP PAID in circle, and this had been over-stamped with what looks like A T something, and charge marks of England and overseas. In red there is 1/8, which was the rate for a single page letter paid to the Franco-German border. Then there is a charge mark presumably for the Franco/German bit of 1/43 which may be 1 Mark 43 pfennig and at the lower left 1/16 over 27 which adds up to 1/43. Of the foreign postmarks — some illegible, what looks like ..AIS a double circle in red with stars, incompletely stamped and I think this is BEAUVAIS, a town north of Paris. The German stamp is GEVON AUGSBURG undated circle in red.

There is also a pencil notation which looks like
‘ File Hier brauet gefahr’

It is a long chatty letter — he has written all over it, including at the top of the inside page as well, (Fig.2)

and it needs careful handling as it is beginning to split where it has been folded.

The letter is mostly about money and how to invest it, and it is obvious that the writer has his finger on the pulse of invested funds. The first paragraph is family news.

“ Albion Road Stoke Newington
15th Jany 1836
My dear Sir,
I had the pleasure of receiving your kind letter from Munich of the 9th Decr last, & am happy to hear you are quite well — I would have replied sooner but have been confined by indisposition, and Mrs S is just recovering from a most severe cold & cough.

The weather here has been severe, and the cold the most intense we have experienced in England for many winters. It now blows hard — I should think your Brother will kill numbers of wild ducks this Season. I had a letter from him in November from the Haunted chateau de la Goupilliere
(note: this is an area in the Loire Valley)
and I am of your opinion, that he has been this year (I mean last year) if possible a hotter sportsman than ever. Grover has left London with his ward Mr Hater to travel on the Continent and is now in France.”

He then goes into financial matters, showing a surprising amount of knowledge about foreign affairs.

“I do not think that the U.S. Bank will get their charter renewed, but it is thought that they will repay to their proprietors a part of the capital, and go on as private Bankers in this way they may do well, as their credit in America stands high.”

He was right — information from Wikipedia on the internet revealed this information:-
The Second Bank of the United States thrived from the tax revenue that the federal government regularly deposited. President Jackson was absolutely against the bank, as he felt that it was responsible for the inflation etc, so he struck at this vital source of funds in 1833 by instructing his Secretary of the Treasury to deposit federal tax revenues in state banks. As a result the Second Bank of the United States soon began to lose money. The head of the bank, Nicholas Biddle, desperate to save his bank, called in all of his loans and closed the bank to new loans. This did not help, and it was left with little money. In 1836 its charter expired and it became a private bank in Philadelphia. Despite the bankruptcy of the Second Bank of the United States in 1841, the building was not demolished. It is one of the main structures in the Independence National Historical Park in downtown Philadelphia.

He then continues:-
“ I should not think that a war between France and America would depress the Shares but tend to raise them. I agree with you that there will not be a war — perhaps it would not be prudent to invest money in any of the Separate State Loans on account of the bad feeling between the Northern & Southern States, caused by the agitation of the Slave question. I should consider the French funds a safe investment but if I did invest in that country would prefer French Bank Stock. I do not know what it now produces, but Grover is to get me the particulars, and you could easily be informed by a Banker corresponding with Paris — My reason for preferring a bank in a foreign country to the funds, is that in the event of a war, there would be no interruption in the payment of the Dividends.”

This next paragraph is really surprising — a web search showed that this is what is now ANZ bank, and their records confirms the facts as written by Mr. Bartholomew.

I offered a copy of this letter to ANZ for their museum, which they accepted.
“ Grover has been fortunate by investing in the Bank of Australasia, no dividend has been yet declared but the paid up Share of 40 has risen to 56, and they say that the rise will be greater when a dividend is declared, which is expected in about nine months. This Bank has got a charter for 21 years from Government and can establish as many branches as they wish in Australasia, where the interest of money I am told is about ten per cent.

There is now another Bank about being established under the same Directors, to be called the Bank of South Africa, divided into 6000 Shares of 25 each, and Grover is so sure that this will turn out a good thing that he has applied for 50 Shares. My objection is the length of time before any divd is declared, but for one who can lay out the money for a few years it may answer well.

I lately bought some Long Annys (Annuities?) producing about 6 pr cent till 1860, 24 years, when the money is gone but this is a long time to look forward to — the price is now 16-5/8. I should not think this a good time to invest in the English fund as from the present unsettled state of Ireland some political conflict might arise in this country. The Times predicts a change of ministry in six weeks, ‘ nous verrons ’ (we shall see) as the French say. ”

The next paragraph is all about Bank Stock and this was a ‘gilt-edged ’ investment of the time, as the dividends and capital were guaranteed by the Government, so huge amounts of money were invested in these. The investors were not only people who were not prepared to take any risks with their funds, but also by Trustees on behalf of their clients until they reached their age of majority.

“ Bank Stock now at 214 pays 8 per share per annum (in April and Octbr) so that if you deduct 2 for divd run you would get for each 100 invested 4 pr an. i.e. should the present dividend be kept up. The reason it is now so low as compared with the other Stock is the uncertainty of the divd being continued as they were obliged to take 30,000 (I believe) from their rest last year (the first year of the new charter) to make up the dividend, but the Governor said that this was but a trifle in so large a concern, when they were paid 120,000 less for the management of the Govt business but if they could not go on another year without taking from the rest, that of course they must reduce — I am of the opinion from the large Govt balances they have lately had, and now have in their hands that they will keep up the divd & that Bank Stock will rise — even if they reduce to 7 per cent the Stock according to the value of the 3 per cents would still be worth about 200. Shd you invest I would recommend you to do it prior to March when the books shut for the next divd. ”

It is obvious from this letter that the writer is very familiar with all the different financial options available. However, that's the end of the financial recommendations, and he continued with news of family and friends

“ I called on your old landlady Miss Clarke, she was out but Mr Clarke seemed delighted to hear you were well and shewed me your live boxes and fishing rod in the kitchen, in a dry place, they are not inconvenient and he will take care of them till your return to London. It gives me great pleasure to hear of your return to England, so that next Summer.”

He then ran out of room so returned to the first page and wrote in the gap before his address..(see illustration above)

“ I shall hear you narrate in person all your adventures by flood and field — remember me most kindly to your Brother when you write to him & say I answered his last letter of the 1st Novr last —
Mrs S desires to be most kindly remembered to you & joins me in wishing you Many Happy Returns of the Season
Believe me to remain ever
My dear Sir
Yours most sincerely
M. R. Bartholomew ”

There are two references to Mrs.S. and usually when this appears in the letter it is a reference to the wife of the writer, but in this case the signature is clearly Bartholomew, I find it really surprising that in 1836 a man in England should be so informed about the financial situation in other countries — no television or radio news then!


References :
‘Great Britain Post Roads Post Towns and Postal Rates 1635-1839’   

This article was first published in Stamp News the Australian monthly magazine.

Copyright By EARS Leisurewrite

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