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By a Hogshead of Oyster Shells, a Worthless Old Ox-Cart, and Ducks: The Economic World of Williamsburg Brick Maker Humphrey Harwood

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image of Journal of Early American History

We analyze Williamsburg, Virginia, builder Humphrey Harwood’s business ledger (1773–1793); a traditional businessman in a time of business innovation. He faced the problems of colonial businessmen: an insufficient money supply forced him to extend credit, creating re-payment problems and re-payment costs. Business practices managing these problems were becoming widespread. Harwood practiced none. This choice was expensive. Harwood extended large amounts of credit for extended periods of time, yet received 18 shillings per £1 of credit he extended. Harwood accepted whatever payment type his customers offered whenever offered. We hypothesize that social and cultural factors helped shaped his business practices.

Affiliations: 1: University of Central Arkansas, ; 2: Independent Scholar


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