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Bidding Information
Lot #    7318
Auction End Date    6/8/2004 10:48:00 AM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    T. I. Tobias Correspondence
Author    [Ms.]
City    New York
Publication Date    1821
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   24 letters, various sizes, all in good condition, one with wax seal intact, ink on paper, all signed and dated.
Paragraph 1    Series One: Series of letters to Mr. T. I. Tobias, a well to do New York merchant, all written in 1821, from various correspondents. The subject matter of these letters, an important period piece of early American-Judaica, varies, encompassing such subjects as travels and business affairs. The letters are not arranged chronologically but by correspondent. This series begins with a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Tobias by a Mr. Boruch, dated July 14, 1821, describing a trip taken with a Mr. Levi and family by boat to Montreal. The warm tone of these letters can be seen from the opening lines, which states “Dr. Friends. I take the liberty of addressing these few lines to you both hoping they might find you and your family’s well . . .” He requests that Mr. Tobias look in at his office and how his boys come on. He then goes on to describe the trip and individuals met. For example, in Montreal, “when we arrived at the fort I sent for J. Levi. He came immediately. I then gave them into his charge and wished him good day. In about an hour and a half after my arrival home I Levi (?) Meyer Levi and Moses Hays came to my house. M. Levi I made welcome in particular.”

The remainder of the letters in this series are from N. Hart. The second letter, dated 9 April 1821, is from N. Hart. It has a London heading and begins Dear Tob. It begins by noting difficulties with the mail between America and England and proceeds to business matters. Additional letters mention such subjects as family matters, such as Tobias’ brother, cotton prices, and watches to Havana and New Orleans, coral beads, silverware, and collecting bills.

This series of letters, seven in all, are written in a fine cursive hand. They provide insight into life and business in America in the beginning of the second decade of the nineteenth century as seen and experienced by early American Jewry. Tobias served on the boards of a number of New York Jewish organizations, including the Society for the Education of Poor Children and Relief of Indigent Persons of the Jewish Persuasion of which he was treasurer. He was a member of Congregation Shearith Israel, where his wife was instrumental in organizing projects for the welfare of the Jewish community.

   Series Two: Additional correspondence to Mr. T. I. Tobias. This series begins with a letter from Moses J. Hayes of Montreal, dated 19 March 1821. Mr. Hayes begins, “My dear Friend I have one very particular favor to request of you which is to procure me one sheet of common leghorn for the purpose of making a summer hat. I would not pay more than $3 for the same, our friend Baruch Levi will take charge of it on his return from Philadelphia. He leaves Montreal this day on his way to New York . . .” Further on Mr. Hayes discusses “Our elegant building the mansion house hotel was last week consumed by fire . . .”

There are several letters from Mr. A. Joseph. One letter seems to have been written in two directions, the lines crossing each other vertically and horizontally. These letters are personal in content addressing various subjects, among them weddings, pirates the Jews’ Rothschild charity, a woman doctor, the death of poor Bonaparte, Sofia Tobias’ health, high wages and meat prices. Among the entries in one letter (April 11, 1821) are “Rothschild is still the lucky man and all those who are attached to him are fortunate and must make money. Someone has ordered two hundred suits of coats (?) from head to foot for the children in the free school to be paid for out of their own private purse some say it is a christian and others say it is Mr. Rothschild but yet is a secret . . .” there is a discussion of business failures in Amsterdam and then “The Queen is put to rest, and Catholic bill . . . all conversation. Here comes the King going to Ireland.”

One letter is comprised of three duplicate letters, the first from James Kilshame dated 30 March 1821, originating in New Orleans, the original for Louisa Matilda. Mr. Tobias is here referred to as Esq. It is a formal business correspondence, beginning “Sir. Yesterday your draft on Mr. H. Hearland for $634 fell due and was punctually retired but no House of satisfactory responsibility being at the present moment drawers on tither (?) London or Liverpoole are compelled to defer remitting the amount with such paper as we should ourselves be inclined to take, were the funds our own.”

This series is comprised of six letters.

Paragraph 2    Series Three: Additional correspondence to Mr. T. I. Tobias. This is the longest series, being comprised of eleven letters. The correspondents are more varied. The first letter, from Aaron B (?) is dated March 3, 1821. It is a business letter, informing Mr. Tobias “Enclosed please find funds acct. funds for your Cologne water. Also invoice and Bills of Lading for seven bags coffee shipped . . . I regret exceedingly the unfortunate result of this shipment but be assured that it was the best that could be done.” There is a letter from a Mr. Levy, dated 3 August, 1821, informing that Mr. Benjamin D. Lazarus will “visit your city in pursuit of better health. As he will be an entire stranger (this being his first absence from home) I wish him to enjoy the beauty of your good society.” The majority of these letters are from a Mr. Phillips. They vary in length and are written in response to letters from Tobias. Although business letters, these replies are unfailingly warm. Written by a number of individuals, with different handwritings and styles, and with varying interests, they are uniformly consistent in their high regard for the recipient, T. I. Tobias. These letters open a window into the personal and business life of a Jewish businessman in an early period of American history.
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Listing Classification
19th Century:    Checked
America-South America:    Checked
History:    Checked
Language:    English
Manuscript Type
Letters:    Checked
Kind of Judaica