Hagley Museum & Library
Manuscripts & Archives Department
P.O. Box 3630
Wilmington, DE 19807-0630
Microform, 1 v.
Richard Gilpin was the son of Joshua Gilpin (1765-1841), a Philadelphia merchant and paper manufacturer. Joshua Gilpin inherited his father’s business and in 1787 established Delaware’s first paper mill on Brandywine Creek near Wilmington with his brother, Thomas, and his uncle, Miers Fisher. Joshua Gilpin made two extensive tours of England and the Continent in 1795-1801 and 1811-1815, during which he examined many of the latest advances in technology. Thomas Gilpin "invented" and patented a continuous papermaking machine, the first of its type in the U.S., in 1817. It was set up in the brothers’ Brandywine mill. Although successful, the Gilpins suffered from a shortage of capital and losses in other investments, and they sold the mill in 1837. Although the name of Richard Gilpin appears on the cover, most of the letters and memoranda in the notebook were written by Joshua and Thomas Gilpin and by their mill manager, Lawrence Greatrake. The volume is an important source for the early history of papermaking in America, as it shows that the Gilpins were using every means possible to obtain models, drawings and information about the continuous papermaking machines developed in England. These were of two types, the endless belt machine invented by Louis Robert in France in 1798, perfected in England by Bryan Donkin and John Hall, and installed in the factory of Henry and Sealy Fourdrinier in 1804, and the cylinder machine patented by John Dickinson in 1809. Greatrake travelled to England in 1815-1816, inspected the machines and collected patent information. He had more luck with Dickinson, with whom he had once been an apprentice. The machine patented by Thomas Gilpin in 1817 was a variation on Dickinson’s design. The volume also contains memoranda on the design and construction of the Gilpins’ paper mill and on various plans for developing the water power of Brandywine Creek.