Home > History of Wine > “Second Door from the Corner”: Old Madeira advertisements by John Mitchell of Charleston

“Second Door from the Corner”: Old Madeira advertisements by John Mitchell of Charleston

Advertisement for wines by John Mitchell at 43 Bay Street. May 18, 1786. [5]

John Mitchell (1741–1816) was a merchant in the British West Indies before joining his brother Randall Mitchell at business in Philadelphia in 1769.  During the Revolutionary War, John Mitchell became deputy quartermaster general and even entertained George and Martha Washington.[1]  After the war, John Mitchell moved to Charleston where he led an active life.  He was a merchant, warden, magistrate, and notary public. [2]

John Mitchell is of interest not only because of his sales of “Genuine old Madeira” of the London Market and London Particular quality but his inclusion of 1756 and 1766 Hock along with both Hermitage and “[Cote] Rotie”.  These were the early years for the importation of Hermitage and Cote Rotie in America for the earliest reference I am aware of appears in the correspondence  of the Carroll family of Maryland during 1772.

103 and 105 East Bay St at Elliott St, Charleston, SC, as it appears today.

It is one building south of the corner of Bay Street and Elliott Street, now 105 East Bay St,  that John Mitchell first sold an extensive selection of wines imported from Philadelphia beginning in 1785. [3] [4]  One year later, in 1786, he  sold wine out of 43 Bay Street for at least the next two years. [5]  After 1788, his advertisements fall silent.  It is possible that Mitchell’s rising prominence as  a Mason and member of the Society of the Cincinnati that led him to leave the wine merchant business.

43 East Bay St in 1937. LOC. [7]

During the period when John Mitchell sold wine he maintained his residence at 30 Bay Street. [6]  Charleston houses typically combined both residential and commercial spaces so it is interesting that he did not always reside above his store. The only period during which he did so was September 1786 and October 1786.[8][9]  Perhaps he was temporarily holding stock during his transition from 105 to 43 East Bay St.  I do not yet have information on the history of his residence but it is known that both 43 East Bay St, built c. 1755, and 105 East Bay St, built c. 1787, both operated as commercial properties on the ground floor. [10]  One possibility for his moving business was to increase space for his business.  It should be possible to obtain plats or floor plans to see if this is true.  If I am able to obtain them then I will update this post.

[1] “To George Washington from John Mitchell, 20 May 1789,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified March 30, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-02-02-0248. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 2, 1 April 1789 – 15 June 1789, ed. Dorothy Twohig. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1987, pp. 347–348.]

[2] Poll Lists Charleston Municipal Elections 1787. Source: The South Carolina Historical Magazine, Vol. 56, No. 1 (Jan., 1955), pp. 45-49. Published by: South Carolina Historical Society. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27565984

[3] Advertisement. Date: Wednesday, October 26, 1785 Paper: Columbian Herald (Charleston, South Carolina) Issue: 115 Page: 1

[4] Advertisement. Date: Saturday, May 7, 1785 Paper: South-Carolina Gazette and General Advertiser (Charleston, South Carolina) Issue: 369 Page: 4

[5] Advertisement. Date: Thursday, May 18, 1786 Paper: Columbian Herald (Charleston, South Carolina) Issue: 177 Page: 1 and Advertisement. Date: Friday, August 8, 1788 Paper: City Gazette (Charleston, South Carolina) Volume: VI Issue: 1019 Page: 3

[6] Charleston Directory 1790. Lowcountry Digital Library.  Charleston Library Society.  http://lcdl.library.cofc.edu/lcdl/catalog/lcdl:108660.  See also Poll Lists from 1787.

[7] Johnston, Frances Benjamin, photographer. James Hartley House, 43 East Bay Street, Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina. Charleston Charleston County South Carolina, 1937. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/csas200803480/. (Accessed June 26, 2017.)

[8] Advertisement. Date: Thursday, September 21, 1786 Paper: Charleston Morning Post (Charleston, South Carolina) Volume: IV Issue: 478 Page: 3

[9] Advertisement. Date: Thursday, October 5, 1786 Paper: Charleston Morning Post (Charleston, South Carolina) Volume: IV Issue: 490 Page: 4

[10] Poston, Jonathan H. “The Buildings of Charleston”. University of South Carolina. 1997.

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