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COLLECTION Identifier: Mss:761 1852-1879

Wilder and Estabrook records


Records of Wilder and Estabrook of Boston, Mass., a firm that imported and sold tobacco and cigars from Cuba and also manufactured cigars domestically, 1852-1879. Also includes personal papers of Charles W. Wilder relating to other business ventures.


  • Creation: 1852-1879

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored onsite. Contact for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

In many cases, Baker Library does not hold the copyright to the materials in its collections. Researchers are responsible for determining copyright status and identifying and contacting any copyright holders for permission to reproduce or publish content from collections. Baker Library has included the names of third-party copyright holders at the folder and item level when known.


13 linear feet (15 volumes, 47 boxes, 2 cartons)

This collection of account books and papers gives, for certain periods of years, a very full history of the business transactions of the Boston firm, Wilder and Estabrook, which imported and sold cigars and leaf tobacco , and after 1868 manufactured domestic cigars. The copartnership between Charles W. Wilder and Rufus Estabrook was formed April 1, 1853 and continued to 1859. According to the Boston Directory of 1860, the members of the firm were Charles W. Wilder and Benjamin Estabrook . By 1875 the firm had become Estabrook and Eaton.

The unbound material includes letters regarding orders, 1858-1879 (Boxes 1-16A) and letters regarding purchases, 1857-1878 (Boxes 17-28).

The miscellaneous materials in Boxes 29 and 30 document some of the company's non-tobacco, such as letters relating to the purchase and sale of rum and whiskey during the years 1863 -1868, especially insolvency notices. Also, letters relating to the purchase of "Diamond Parlor Matches" in 1866 and 1869 letters on the purchase of the endless match which appears to be the ancestor of the modern cigarette lighter. In 1869, some of the letters refer to purchases of the "joke" breath perfumes; in 1867 Wilder and Estabrook became owners of a patent sash supporter and fastener and a few letters relate to this business enterprise. In 1869 there are letters from the National Tobacco Association urging national cooperation "in saving our trade from annihilation."

Boxes 31-33 contain the company's correspondence with Havana, Cuba , 1858-1879. These letters, invoices and bills of lading give a fairly complete record of Wilder and Estabrook's Cuban importations of manufactured and leaf tobacco during the years 1858 to 1874. From this material one learns not only the quality, quantity, and cost of leaf and manufactured tobacco imported, but also the meteorological, economic, and political conditions affecting sales. There is some information about the effects of the Ten Years' War (1868-1878) on the Cuban tobacco trade, and many of the letters give the current premium or discount on Exchange in Havana.

Boxes 34-37 contain personal papers relating to Charles W. Wilder, 1854-1874. These include personal correspondence (Box 34), records regarding the Brookline Omnibus Company (Box 35), shipping papers (Box 36), and mining records (Box 37). See these boxes in the inventory below for more detailed information.

The collection also includes outgoing (Box 38) and incoming letters (Boxes 39-45), 1870-1874. There are several bound financial volumes (Volumes 46-60) that include a ledger, journals, daybooks, order book, sales books, a cash book and an invoice book, 1852-1979. Box 61 contains miscellaneous unbound financial records. There are also two cartons (Cartons 1 and 2) of bills, bills of lading, and freight bills, 1859-1874.

Historical Note:

These records comprise the history of Wilder and Estabrook of Boston, Mass., which dealt in both Cuban and domestic leaf tobacco and cigars. After 1868 they also entered into the manufacture of domestic cigars. The collection is especially strong in letters relating to purchases of tobacco by the firm and to sales by agents throughout New England. Personal papers of Charles W. Wilder include records of the Brookline Omnibus Company and records relating to copper mining .

Physical Location


Baker Library
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Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Baker Library Special Collections and Archives, Harvard Business School Repository

Baker Library Special Collections and Archives holds unique resources that focus on the evolution of business and industry, as well as the records of the Harvard Business School, documenting the institution's development over the last century. These rich and varied collections support research in a diverse range of fields such as business, economic, social and cultural history as well as the history of science and technology.

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