Wednesday 19 October 1664

Up and to my office all the morning. At noon dined at home; then abroad by coach to buy for the office “Herne upon the Statute of Charitable Uses,” in order to the doing something better in the Chest than we have done, for I am ashamed to see Sir W. Batten possess himself so long of so much money as he hath done. Coming home, weighed, my two silver flaggons at Stevens’s. They weigh 212 oz. 27 dwt., which is about 50l., at 5s. per oz., and then they judge the fashion to be worth above 5s. per oz. more — nay, some say 10s. an ounce the fashion. But I do not believe, but yet am sorry to see that the fashion is worth so much, and the silver come to no more.

So home and to my office, where very busy late. My wife at Mercer’s mother’s, I believe, W. Hewer with them, which I do not like, that he should ask my leave to go about business, and then to go and spend his time in sport, and leave me here busy. To supper and to bed, my wife coming in by and by, which though I know there was no hurt in it; I do not like.


23 Annotations

Terry F  •  Link

"I do not believe, but yet am sorry to see that the fashion is worth so much"

If fashion is worth so much in periwigs and silver-laced gowns, why not, pray tell, in flagons?!

Ding  •  Link

Sam goes from righteous "in order to the doing something better in the Chest than we have done" and ends up peevish "though I know there was no hurt in it; I do not like."
As always a very human being.

djc  •  Link

"I do not believe, but yet am sorry to see that the fashion is worth so much"

I think fashion in this case means more the labour cost of the silversmithing than a premium for style a la mode.

cape henry  •  Link

djc seems to have the sense of it: metallic objects are still 'fashioned.'

JWB  •  Link

Silver

Today's close Ag @ 13.64 USD= 6.665 GBP/oz. That's 133 s/oz. or 2,560% increase from Sam's quote of 5 s/oz.

JWB  •  Link

Silver addendum

2,560% increase over 333 years ~ 7.7%/year or about the same as stocks have appreciated in the US over the past century.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

You know Sam, Mr. Coventry might have a word or two to say about the more frivolous sides of certain of your trips away from the office...During wartime.

"...my wife coming in by and by, which though I know there was no hurt in it; I do not like." When she should be home, waiting patiently with supper prepared, ready for hard-working, put-upon you with genuinely curious and supportive conversation about your heroic labors for her and the Nation this weary day... Ah, well do I know the feeling of coming home having made the world safe from s.pneumoniae to find the Missus off gallivanting in her electric
chariot...Ow!

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Well, Ambassidor? Demands from the Hague? I shall jail Holmes and evacuate New Amsterdam and the Guinea outposts at once? Or else face the Republic's wrath?"

"Your Majesty. I have the honor to present you with..." hands document.

"What the deuce...?"

"Your bill for your extended stay in our Republic, sire? With interest, plus the estimated losses we suffered at the hands of your enemies, naturally."

"Be cheaper to return New York and bloody Africa..." Charles stares.

"No. Sire. We much prefer the cash, thank you."

Paul Chapin  •  Link

"sorry to see that the fashion is worth so much, and the silver come to no more"
Sam is thinking of these flagons as capital rather than as home decor, but as capital they're not very liquid, one would have to sell them to realize their monetary value. If the silver were a greater proportion of their total value, it might make sense to melt them down if one needed the money for some reason, but with workmanship constituting half to two-thirds of their value, that would be wasteful.

Glyn  •  Link

I agree with Paul, fashions go in and out of style and in a few years' time they might be considered old-fashioned and lose their value.

Is anyone else amused by the way that things seem to have temporarily changed in the Pepys' household? Usually it's Elizabeth who is stuck indoors waiting for her husband to come home and complaining of being lonely and neglected. I wonder if she is trying to make some sort of a point?

London women in the 17th century seem a bit more able to stick up for themselves than I had imagined before reading this diary.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"Sir W. Batten...so long of so much money as he hath done"
Old money pal.

Miss Lizzy  •  Link

"...in order to the doing something better in the Chest than we have done, for I am ashamed to see Sir W. Batten possess himself so long of so much money as he hath done."

Does this mean that Batten sits on the money in the Chest and won't use it as intended? Or is this a reference to his own money that Sam thinks should be used for chartiy? Seems odd, considering Sam doesn't do much charity work, himself.

JWB  •  Link

Chatham Chest

With war on the horizon, Batten may have been justly prudent to sit on the funds.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Seems Bess is getting along with Mary Mercer quite well so far... Too well, Sam would probably say. And while I understand the ladies' desire for a male companion on their journey, what's all this about Will Hewer claiming to be going along about "business" and according to Sam, instead spending his time in "sport", (presumably with the girls). I get the impression Sam turned down the chance to go, blathering about "important business", then the ladies put their heads together and persuaded Will to wrangle the day off. Bess then came home and went on and on about the merry time they all had while a fuming Sam nodded and smiled until he could get up to his closet and rant to the Diary.

Aw, Sam...Pfffffth...

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

to the doing something better in the Chest than we have done, for I am ashamed to see Sir W. Batten possess himself so long of so much money as he hath done.

Sam is referring to his belief that Batten, the head of the Chest, has been helping himself beyond merit to Chest funds (See entry for May 3, 1664.) Earlier, Pepys wrote that Commissioner Pett was also taking large funds from the Chest. (Dec.3, 1662).

jeannine  •  Link

The ladies adventure with Will. We have to remember that Will knew Mary Mercer before she came to Sam's house, so I am sure that he was delighted to go along with the ladies. It reminds me of a male friend from work days long ago who would always blow off going places with the guys and go out to lunch with me and another of my female friends. One day he was driving us somewhere in his truck and I was crammed in the middle and chatting with my female friend (aka gossiping for all I know). He was silent and looked like he was SO intently following the road that I looked over and asked him if he was okay. He simply replied that he was sitting there so silently and intently because he didn't want to miss a word of what we were saying. He explained that the guys never talked about the stuff that we chatted about so freely. I felt like I was being examined for some anthropologic study.

centus ii  •  Link

Another Samuell entree
1. The action or process of making. Hence, the ‘making’ or workmanship as an element in the value of plate or jewellery. Obs.
1463....
1664 PEPYS Diary (1879) III. 62 They judge the fashion to be worth above 5s. per oz. more.

2. a. Make, build, shape. Hence, in wider sense, visible characteristics, appearance. Said both of material and of immaterial things. arch. {dag}out of fashion: out of shape.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I wonder if Elizabeth is still upset about being hit for bad service at the dinner a couple of weeks ago. There have been a few examples of passive resistance by her since then, and Pepys has made no mention of her remembering their anniversary or his apologizing. They are on the outs.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Nicola Mercer of St. Olave’s parish was probably a widow by 1664. She lived on the north side of Crutched Friars (in French Ordinary Court), where Will Hewer lodged with her. So for Will to be there was no surprise to Sam. Maybe Will left the office "early" which upset Pepys?

MartinVT  •  Link

"2,560% increase over 333 years ~ 7.7%/year or about the same as stocks have appreciated in the US over the past century."

Not really... if you take compound interest into account, a rate of slightly under 1% per year would yield an increase of 2,560% over 333 years. Stocks beat silver by a factor of at least 7.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Glyn wrote: “London women in the 17th century seem a bit more able to stick up for themselves than I had imagined before reading this diary.”

I doubt many London women had the ability to do so. Most of them would have been burdened with a constant round of child care. Sam and Elizabeth were by this time married for 9 years. If she was able to conceive she could easily have borne five children by 1664. Effective birth control was unheard of. It’s unlikely she would have been out socializing as she was if she’d had a baby every two years or so as most of her peers would have had. Sam’s diary would have been very different.

Harvey L  •  Link

London women in the 17th century... If the Pepys had children, they would have had servants to look after them so Elizabeth might have been as free.

I too, have found that the diary shows a greater freedom for (at least some) women than expected. Elizabeth and Sam seem to have had a similar relationship as do many today. The world changes but human nature does not.

Another surprise is Sam's father being retired... various academic experts have stated that 'retirement' is a recent invention, which is clearly not so. I guess that to be an expert you can be "Sometimes in error but never in doubt."

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Elizabeth and Sam seem to have had a similar relationship as do many today."

Maybe so: there are many traditional marriages yet today in the Anglophone world, but they tend to be a generational, regional, social class thing. The Pepys's relationship was not similar to mine and my wife's, nor, so far as I can tell, to those among my married family and friends. To take a superficial but indicative example, insufferable and unthinkable are the way Pepys "gives his wife" an allowance, audits her books every month, and gives her a grade, etc. (My wife had run her own business and kept our checkbook.)

I wonder how the "academic experts [who] stated that 'retirement' is a recent invention" were defining "retirement"? Pepys's father's "retirement" clearly wasn't like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retirement

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