Davidson & May
XI/38/82-83, 4 boxes
For Benjamin Davidson, see above. Early letters in this series are from Davidson only. However, NMR appears to have felt that Davidson’s performance as their San Francisco agent was not satisfactory, and from part way through 1850 letters begin to be signed by Davidson and May. May writes in German while Davidson continues to write in English. Subjects covered in this series of letters include the gold and quicksilver trade with comments on these markets and on prospecting for gold; at times Davidson used gold dust for remittances, and when there was a superabundance of gold dust the market for drafts was adversely affected. Davidson also traded in specie and bullion for NMR, and there are some references to him shipping consignments to London for NMR. There are also reports on the local markets for general merchandise and the availability of numerous commodities, details re emigration to San Francisco, the price of labour, the government's need for loans, and the weather (Davidson remarks that 'the market fluctuates with the barometer'). Davidson invested in a good deal of land on NMR's account, renting out houses he bought or had built himself (a business over which he fell out with NMR), and there are details of the construction materials, including the problems of insuring wooden houses, and the cost of land in San Francisco. Davidson's letters provide reports of local events, such as fires in the city which prevent him doing business, and they give a good impression of life (the cost of living, local crime rate, etc.) in California at the time. Included are invoices for consignments of gold dust and other merchandise (coffee, sugar, spices, cigars, etc.) and notes of drafts. [Note: A pocket account book of D M Davidson, brother of Benjamin Davidson covering the period 1847-1851, including expenditure on cigars, bets, china, furniture, hunting, travelling, and notes on events, including the movements of Benjamin Davidson, the election of Baron Lionel de Rothschild (1808-1878) to Parliament in 1847, and the abdication of Louis-Philippe d'Orléans, France's last king after the uprising of 1848 will be found 000/1922].