Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Things for the Funeral, 18th Century Handwritten List

Scrap of paper, approximately 7-1/2" x 5", entitled "Things for the Funeral", likely written in the late 18th century, if it was written in the United States.  

The list mentions shillings; the United States Coinage Act of 1792 established the use of silver dollars; half dollars, dimes and half dimes, pennies and half pennies, gold eagles and half eagles.

However, the list may have been written in Canada, so it's possible it was written as late as the early 19th century.

The reverse has what could be a date or maybe an amount and implies that the funeral was that of a person named Bancroft.  But I'd like your thoughts on that.


Things for the Funeral
1 pare of mens gloves
1 pare of gloves for a boy of fourteen years old
1 pare of gloves for a boy of eight years old
8 pare of womans gloves
1 pare of gloves for a girl of eleven years old
Four yards and a half of persian, two shillings worth of __["Soin" for Sewing?] Silk
Six yards of silk ferret
three ____
four yards of black sattin ribben
three black bilboa hankerchefs
two yards of black sew [*] binding
one black fan

On reverse:

for Bancroft

*An online colleague supplied the word "sew"; thanks, Beverly!  

As you can see, I'm still not sure about another word, for which I left the second blank, but a reader wonders if it could be "wreaths".  I'd appreciate hearing from readers about that word and other words I may have misconstrued.  

Sad as this list is, it's somewhat reassuring to know that these items weren't already at hand, from having been needed on many prior occasions.  Though perhaps this was the funeral of a highly distinguished elder that required extra formality.

Update: Many thanks to a reader who noted that it was a funerary custom to give gloves as gifts to the mourners.   This reader also noted that "Persian" is a thin silk and was probably used here to make a veil.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. At the risk of saying something stupid, I‘d read the last part of the first line on the 2nd page as -
    L22-11-7 (i.e. 22 pounds, 11 shillings and 7 pence)

    Also, could the second line be “In Bancroft“ (a place) or “Jn (John) Bancroft“?

  2. Thanks for your comment, Stephen, and, yes, I think you hit the nail on the head! That it's the total of what the items add up to. Wish we could figure out what the preceding words are. I like your thoughts on the last line, too - as you say, could be either or. It's so great to have different sets of eyes in on the deciphering.

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