One of the readers of this website recently contacted me regarding a stamp she owned and needed information on. After looking at images of the stamp and the name of the merchant E. PAVENSTADT & Co that she noticed on the side of the stamp once I asked her to look, I concluded that it was a typical, though impressively large, trademark stamp.
Looking up the E. PAVENSTEDT & Co online, it turns out they were a very interesting old merchant firm, listed as being at 52 Exchange place, Downtown NYC in 1872 but going back at least a few decades before then.
The earliest record found in the US was in 1837, when a 27 year old German by the name of E Pavenstedt, arrived in NY on board a ship named “Vester”.
The company is mentioned in government papers importing ” A number of cases of colored prints” in 1848. The prints were shipped to New Orleans and a bond was given to the US government that $1,150 would be released once the cloth arrived in New Orleans. Unfortunately the vessel carrying the prints was lost at sea and the House of Representatives had issued an order to cancel the bond. This suggests that the firm were a very powerful and influential company to both absorb the losses and have the Senate settle their grievances.
E. PAVENSTEDT & Co evidently didn’t just import cotton, with a listing in 1864 New York Times marine diary listing “Brig Maracaibo, (Br.,) Scandella, Maracaibo April 21, and the bar 27th, with coffee, hides, etc., to E. Pavenstadt & Co.” and in 1865 describing the arrival in NY of the “Brig Maracaibo, (of Nassau,) Scandella, Maracaibo June 27, and the Bar July, with coffee, fustic, etc., to E. Pavenstadt & Co” and the “Bark Brazileira, (Russ.,) Wessels, Rio Janeiro 48 ds., with coffee to E. Pavenstadt & Co.”
In 1863, during the blockade of imports to the South, E Paventedt had to plea to receive assurances that it could land 178 tons of Hong Kong tea in the United States
So coffee and tea was maybe even a larger part of the company trade than fabric.
A Frederic Charles Jennings emigrated from England “to the United States in 1871 to be tea valuer and general manager of E. Pavenstadt & Co while the owner was away in the East. But Pavenstadt died, and Frederick established his own business as a tea importer in New York”. Pavenstedt are also mentioned in Abram Wakeman’s 1914 history of New York’s coffee and tea trading area around Lower Wall Street, still at 52 Exchange Place.
So was this maybe a coffee sack printing stamp, or was it made and used to stamp fabric for E Pavenstedt in Manchester? It is certainly way oversized for a fabric piece, though sometimes pieces were stamped horizontally rather than vertically. and it did have the tell tale traces of the water soluble indigo stamping paste used in Manchester, which presumably would never be used on a coffee sack as they would be marked with permanent inks. The style and design is of a later simplistic stamp, but the construction using felt is typical of pre 1900 stamps in my collection.
Then came this discovery. Sometimes, by wetting the wood grain, faded embossed lettering starts to stand out more.
There it was “F Brockman, Maker N.Y.C.” punched into the wood with a metal punch exactly as was done by every other stamp maker who wanted to advertise his wares.
The only other curious thing about the stamp is the brass code number on one end. As stamps were stored in making up departments on narrow flat shelves, they often had a number marked on the end so the person that used it could know the design that was on it without having to pull it out. This code seems to bear no relation to the merchant or makers name however. Maybe it was the acronym of the name of the making up or bleaching/printing company where the stamp was used. 2054 seems a high number if that is how many stamps were stored on the shelves.
I am really struggling to find any record of F Brockman online . The only “F Brockman” listed on genealogy sites is an F W Brockman who was also German, born in 1856 and arrived in NY in 1886. Either way, it was definitely made in NYC and it definitely has the typical indigo water soluble ink, so the next task is to date it by finding the stamp maker’s name in a NYC directory. I will update this post when I find it but please let me know if you have any information or theories that may help this mystery.
If nothing else, it is amazing to find a stamp made in the city where my collection now resides and although had a big garment manufacturing base, was not as well known for making up cloth pieces as Lancashire or the Massachusetts region were.
Here is the stamp after I repaired bent strips of copper, cleaned it and added a protective and restorative oil, as stamp makers of the past did