Burroughs' Encyclopaedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information, 1889
by Barkham Burroughs
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For Melba Conner

Universal Assistant and Treasure-House of Information to be Consulted on Every Question That Arises in Everyday Life by Young and Old Alike!

Including: 521 Recipes * 236 Remedies * 150 Themes for Debate * How to Be Handsome * Mother Shipton's Prophesy * The Cure for Baldness * How to Distinguish Death * PLUS 20,000 Things Worth Knowing, and Much Much More.


































20,000 THINGS WORTH KNOWING (20,000 ITEMS), 130

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You want some good advice. Rise early. Be abstemious. Be frugal. Attend to your own business and never trust it to another. Be not afraid to work, and diligently, too, with your own hands. Treat every one with civility and respect. Good manners insure success. Accomplish what you undertake. Decide, then persevere. Diligence and industry overcome all difficulties. Never be mean—rather give than take the odd shilling. Never postpone till to-morrow what can be done to-day. Never anticipate wealth from any source but labor. Honesty is not only the best policy, but the only policy. Commence at the first round and keep climbing. Make your word as good as your bond. Seek knowledge to plan, enterprise to execute, honesty to govern all. Never overtrade. Never give too large credit. Time is money. Reckon the hours of the day as so many dollars, the minutes as so many cents. Make few promises. Keep your secrets. Live within your income. Sobriety above all things. Luck is a word that does not apply to a successful man. Not too much caution—slow but sure is the thing. The highest monuments are built piece by piece. Step by step we mount the pyramids. Be bold—be resolute when the clouds gather, difficulties are surmounted by opposition. Self-confidence, self-reliance is your capital. Your conscience the best monitor. Never be over-sanguine, but do not underrate your own abilities. Don't be discouraged. [Transcriber's Note: The original text reads 'Ninty=nine'] Ninety-nine may say no, the [Transcriber's Note: The original text reads 'hundreth'] hundredth, yes: take off your coat: roll up your sleeves, don't be afraid of manual labor! America is large enough for all—strike out for the west. The best letter of introduction is your own energy. Lean on yourself when you walk. Keep good company. Keep out of politics unless you are sure to win—you are never sure to win, so look out.

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How to Become a Handsome Writer.

The subject of the importance of good writing is as broad as its use. Reaching out in every direction, and pervading every corner of civilized society, from the humblest up to the highest employments, it is a servant of man, second only in importance to that of speech itself. In the world of business its value is seen, from the simplest record or memorandum, up to the parchment which conveys a kingdom. Without it, the wheels of commerce could not move a single hour. At night it has recorded the transactions of the Bank of England during the day; of London; of the whole world.

Through the art of writing, the deeds of men live after them, and we may surround ourselves with the companionship of philosophers, scientists, historians, discoverers and poets; and their discoveries, and reasonings and imaginings become ours. In the amenities of social life, through the medium of the pen, heart speaks to heart, though ocean rolls between. Thoughts of tenderness and affection live when we are gone, and words and deeds of kindness are not preserved by monuments alone. What fountains of grief or joy have been opened in the hearts of those who have read the records of the pen! The pen has recorded the rapturous emotions of love reciprocated. The pen has written the message of sadness which has covered life's pilgrimage with gloom. The pen has traced the record of noble and useful lives, spent in humanity's cause. The songs of the poet, the beautiful tints of his imagination, the flights of the orator in the realms of fancy, and the facts of history, would all perish as the dew of morning, without this noble art of writing.

As a means of livelihood, there is perhaps no other department of education which affords such universal and profitable employment, as writing. From the mere copyist, up to the practical accountant, and onward into that department of penmanship designated as a fine art, the remuneration is always very ample, considering the time and effort required in its acquisition.

Teachers, editors, farmers, doctors and all persons should possess a practical and substantial knowledge of writing, and should be ready with the pen. Business men must of course be ready writers, and hence, in a treatise on business, designed for the education and advancement of the youth of the country, it seems eminently fitting to first make the way clear to a plain, practical handwriting. Neatness and accuracy should characterize the hand-writing of every one. Botch-work and bungling are inexcusable, as well in writing as in the transaction of business. No person has a right to cause a tinge of shame to their correspondent, by sending a letter addressed in a stupid and awkward manner, nor to consume the time of another in deciphering the illegible hooks and scrawls of a message. Every one should have the ambition to write respectably as well as to appear respectable on any occasion.


Having a suitable desk or table, arranged with reference to light, in order to learn to write, it is necessary to be provided with proper materials. Writing materials abundant and so cheap in these times that no excuse is afforded for using an inferior or worthless quality. The materials consist of Pens, Ink and Paper.


Steel pens are considered the best. Gold pens have the advantage of always producing the same quality of writing, while steel pens, new or old, produce finer or courser lines. Notwithstanding this advantage in favor of the gold pen, steel pens adhere to the paper, and produce a better line. The pen should be adapted to the hand of the writer. Some persons require a coarse pen, and some fine. Elastic pens in the hand of one writer may produce the best results, while a less flexible pen may suit the hand of others best. Pens are manufactured of almost an infinite grade and quality, in order to suit the requirements of all. About the only rule that can be given in selecting pens, is to write a few lines, or a page, with each of the pens on trial, and then compare the writing. If it be shaded too heavily, select a less flexible pen, if the hair lines are too delicate, select a coarser pen.


Black ink is always preferable. That which is free from sediment and flows well, should be selected. Use an inkstand with broad base as being less liable to upset. With persons in learning to write it is perhaps best to have a quality of ink which is perfectly black when put on the paper, in order that they may see the results of their labor at once. Business men and accountants prefer a fluid ink, however, which, although not black at first, continues to grow black, and becomes a very bright and durable black, notwithstanding the action of light and heat. Avoid the use of fancy colored inks, especially the more gaudy, such as blue, red or green, in writing all documents which you desire to command attention and respect.


There are almost as many grades of paper to be found in the stationery stores, as there are of pens. For practicing penmanship, nothing is more suitable than foolscap, which may be easily sewed into book-form, with cover of some different color, and thus serves every requirement. The paper should have a medium surface, neither rough and coarse, or too fine and glazed. Have a few extra sheets beside the writing book, for the purpose of practicing the movement exercises and testing the pens. Be provided at all times with a large-sized blotter, and when writing, keep this under the hand. Do not attempt to write with a single sheet of paper on a bare table or desk; there should be many sheets of paper underneath, in order to make an elastic surface.


Aimless, indifferent, or careless practice, never made a good writer, and never will. In order to succeed in this, as in other things, there must be will and determination to succeed, and then persevering and studious effort. Study the models until their forms are fixed in the mind.

No one can execute that which he does not clearly conceive. The artist must first see the picture on the white canvas, before he can paint it, and the sculptor must be able to see in the rough and uninviting stone, the outlines of the beautiful image which he is to carve. In writing, a clear idea of the formation of the different letters, and their various proportions, must become familiar by proper study, examination and analysis. Study precedes practice. It is, of course, not necessary, nor even well, to undertake the mastery of all the forms in writing, by study, until some have been executed. It is best that each form should, as it is taken up, be first measured and analyzed and then practiced at once.

It is the act which crowns the thought. After study, careful and earnest practice can hardly fail to make a good writer of any one. Some persons secure a good style of penmanship with less labor than others, and attain to the elegant, and beautiful formation. But it is only fair to presume that no greater diversity of talent exists in this direction than in the study of other things. All do not learn arithmetic or history with like ease, but no one will assert that all who will, may not learn arithmetic or history. And so, all who will put forth the proper exertion in study and practice may learn to write a good business style, while many of the number will attain to the elegant. The conditions of practice in writing are, Positions of the Body, Position of the Hand an Pen, and Movement.


Sitting squarely fronting the desk, with feet placed firmly on the floor, and both arms on the desk, is, as a rule, the best position for practice in writing, or correspondence. The right side, may, however, be placed to the desk, with the right arm, only, resting thereon, and some persons prefer this position. Avoid crossing the feet, sitting on the edge of the chair, or assuming any careless attitude. The body should be erect, but slightly inclined forward, in order that the eye may follow the pen closely. This position will never cause curvature of the spine. The body should never be allowed to settle down into a cramped and unhealthy position with the face almost on the paper. By thus compressing the lungs and the digestive organs they are soon injured, and if the stomach lose its tone, the eyesight is impaired, there is such a close sympathy between these organs of the body. The practice of writing should be, and properly is, a healthful exercise, and injurious effects result only from improper positions of the body, at variance with good writing as well as good health.

When wearied by sitting and the effort at writing, lay aside paper and pen, arise from the chair, and take exercise and rest by walking about the room or in the open air. Then come back refreshed, and vigorous, for the practice of writing.

In general, the light should fall on the paper from the left side, thus enabling a writer to clearly see the ruled lines, and render the labor of writing easier and more rapid. If one writes left-handed, of course He will sit so as to get his light from the right side, or over the right shoulder.


As a beautifier of the handwriting, by causing a diversity of light and shade among the letters, shading has its value; but in the practical handwriting for business purposes, it should, as a rule, be classed with flourishing, and left out. Requiring time and effort, to bring down the shades on letters, business men, clerks and telegraph operators find a uniform and regular style of writing, without shade, the best, even though it may not be as artistic.


A most necessary element in all good penmanship is uniformity. In the slope of the letters and words which form a written page there must be no disagreement. With the letters leaning about in various directions, writing is presented in its most ridiculous phase. Uniformity in the size of letters, throughout the written page; how greatly it conduces to neatness and beauty. All letters resting on the line, and being of uniform hight, adds another condition towards good penmanship. This essential element of uniformity may be watched and guarded closely and cultivated by any learner in his own practice.


As said before, it matters not so much what angle of slant is adopted in writing, provided it is made uniform, and all letters are required to conform exactly to the same slant. Writing which is nearest perpendicular is most legible, and hence is preferable for business purposes. The printed page of perpendicular type; how legible it is. But for ease in execution, writing should slant. It follows then that writing should be made as perpendicular as is consistent with ease of execution. The slant of writing should not be less than sixty degrees from the horizontal.


The practical book-keeper finds it advantageous to do his writing while standing; in fact, where large books are in use, and entries are to be transferred from one to another, the work of the book-keeper can hardly be performed otherwise than in a standing position, free to move about his office. Cumbrous books necessitate a different position at the desk, from that of the correspondent, or the learner. Since large books must lie squarely on the desk, the writer, in order to have the proper position thereto, must place his left side to the desk. The body thus has the same relative position, as if squarely fronting the desk with the paper or book placed diagonally. In other words, the writer, while engaged in writing in large, heavy books, must adjust himself to the position of the books. Should the correspondent or bill clerk perform his work while standing, he would assume the same as the sitting position—squarely fronting the desk.


Children, in learning to write, are apt to sacrifice all other good qualities of beauty, regularity and grace, for the quality of legibility, or plainness. With some older persons this legibility is considered of very little consequence, and is obscured by all manner of meaningless flourishes, in which the writer takes pride. In the estimation of the business man, writing is injured by shades and flourishes. The demand of this practical time is a plain, regular style that can be written rapidly, and read at a glance.


By a careless habit, which many persons allow themselves to fall into, they omit to attend to the little things in writing. Good penmanship consists in attention to small details, each letter and word correctly formed, makes the beautiful page. By inattention to the finish of one letter, or part of a letter of a word, oftentimes the word is mistaken for another, and the entire meaning changed. Particular attention should be devoted to the finish of some of the small letters, such as the dotting of the i, or crossing of the t. Blending the lines which form a loop, often causes the letter to become a stem, similar to the t or d, or an e to become an i. In many of the capital letters, the want of attention to the finish of the letter converts it into another or destroys its identity, such, for instance, as the small cross on the capital F, which, if left off, makes the letter a T. The W often becomes an M, or vice versa, and the I a J. Mistakes in this regard are more the result of carelessness and inattention than anything else. By careful practice a person will acquire a settled habit of giving a perfection to each letter and word, and then it is no longer a task, but is performed naturally and almost involuntarily, while the difference in the appearance of the written page, as well as the exactness and certainty of the meaning conveyed, may be incalculably great.

While practicing penmanship, or while endeavoring to correct a careless habit in writing, the mind must be upon the work in hand, and not be allowed to wander into fields of thought or imagination; by thus confining the attention, any defect or imperfection in the formation of letters may be soon mastered or corrected.


The right arm should rest on the muscles just below the elbow, and wrist should be elevated so as to move free from paper and desk. Turn the hand so that the wrist will be level, or so that the back of the hand will face the ceiling. The third and fourth fingers turned slightly underneath the hand will form its support, and the pen, these fingers and the muscles of the arm near the elbow form the only points of rest or contact on desk or paper. The pen should point over the shoulder, and should be so held that it may pass the root of the nail on the second finger, and about opposite the knuckle of the hand. An unnatural or cramped position of the hand, like such a position of the body, is opposed to good writing, and after many years of observation and study, all teachers concur in the one position above described, as being the most natural, easy and graceful for the writer, and as affording the most freedom and strength of movement.

Avoid getting the hand in an awkward or tiresome position, rolling it over to one side, or drawing the fore finger up into a crooked shape. Hold the pen firmly but lightly, not with a grip as if it were about to escape from service. Do not say, "I can't" hold the pen correctly. Habits are strong, but will may be stronger, and if you hold the pen correctly in spite of old habits, for a few lessons, all will then be easy, and the pen will take its position at each writing exercise, with no effort whatever. Everything being in readiness, and the proper position assumed, the writer must now obtain complete control of hand and pen, by practice in movement.


One of the essentials of a practical business style of writing must be rapidity of execution, in order to be of any avail in the necessities and press of a business position. The demand of the merchant is, that his clerk shall not only write well, but with rapidity, and the volume of letters to be answered, bills to be made out, or items to be entered on the books of account, compel the clerk to move the pen with dexterity and rapidity, as well as skill. While there is great diversity among persons as to the rapidity as well as quality of their penmanship, some being naturally more alert and active than others, yet by securing the proper position of the hand, arm and body, favorable to ease and freedom of execution, then following this with careful practice in movement, until all the varied motions necessary in writing are thoroughly mastered, the person may, with suitable effort, acquire the quality of rapidity in writing, gradually increasing the speed until the desired rate is accomplished.


In the handwriting, as in other things, beauty is largely a matter of taste and education. To the man of business, the most beautiful handwriting is that which is written with ease, and expresses plainly and neatly the thought of the writer. To the professional or artistic taste, while such a hand may be regarded as "a good business hand," it would not be considered as beautiful, because it conforms to no rule as to proportion, shade, and spacing. In the practical art of writing, it is not very unfair to measure its beauty largely by its utility.


Finger movement, or writing by the use of the fingers as the motive power, is entirely inadequate to the requirements of business. The fingers soon become tired, the hand becomes cramped, the writing shows a labored effort, and lacks freedom and ease so essential to good business penmanship. In the office or counting-room, where the clerk or correspondent must write from morning till night, the finger movement of course cannot be used.

What is designated by writing teachers as the Whole Arm, or Free Arm Movement, in which the arm is lifted free from the desk and completes the letter with a dash or a swoop, is necessary in ornamental penmanship and flourishing, but has no place in a practical style of business writing. The man of business would hardly stop, in the midst of his writing, to raise the arm, and execute an "off-hand capital," while customers are waiting.

But adapted to the practical purposes of business is the muscular movement, in which the arm moves freely on the muscles below the elbow, and in cases of precise writing, or in the more extended letters, such as f, is assisted by a slight movement of the fingers. The third and fourth fingers may remain stationary on the paper, and be moved from time to time, or between words, where careful and accurate writing is desired, but in more rapid, free and flowing penmanship, the fingers should slide over the paper.


Having everything in readiness, the student may begin his practice on movement exercises, the object of which is to obtain control of the pen and train the muscles. Circular motion, as in the capital O, reversed as in the capital W, vertical movement as in f, long s and capital J, and the lateral motion as in small letters, must each be practiced in order to be able to move the pen in any direction, up, down, or sidewise.

The simplest exercise in movement. Try to follow around in the same line as nearly as possible. Do not shade.

The same exercise, only with ovals drawn out and and slight shade added to each down stroke.

Sides of ovals should be even, forming as nearly a straight line as possible. Reverse the movement as in third form.

The following three exercises embrace the essential elements in capital letters, and should at first be made large for purposes of movement:

Capital O, down strokes parallel.

Capital stem. Down stroke a compound curve. Shade low. Finish with a dash.

Capital loop. Curves parallel. First curve highest.

Having succeeded to some extent with these exercises, the learner may next undertake the vertical movement. In order to obtain the lateral movement, which enables one to write long words without lifting the pen, and move easily and gracefully across the page, exercises like the following should be practiced:

Down strokes straight. Even and resting on line.

In all movement exercises the third and fourth fingers should slide on the paper, and the finger movement should be carefully avoided. The different movements having been practiced, they may now be combined in various forms.

Lateral and rolling movement combined. Vertical movement and rolling movement combined.

Do not shade the circles. Lines should be parallel.

Movement exercises may be multiplied almost indefinitely by studying the forms used in writing and their combinations. Repeating many of the small letters, such as m, u, e, r, s, a, d, h and c, also capitals D, J, P, etc., forms an excellent exercise for the learner.


In order to enable the learner to examine, analyze and criticise his writing, the following principles are given as his standards of measurements and form. By combining them in various ways the essential part of all letters in the alphabet may be formed.

The principles must be first carefully studied, and separated into the primary lines which compose them and the form of each principle well understood. The student may then form a scale like the one following, by dividing the distance between the blue lines on the paper into four equal spaces, with a lightly ruled line. The letters of the small alphabet should then be placed in the scale and the [Transcriber's Note: The original text reads 'hight'] height of each letter fixed in the mind.

Notice that the contracted letters, or those which occupy only one space, as a, m, n, o, s, v, w and e, and that part of d, g, h, q and y, found in the first space, are all well rounded and developed. These letters and parts of letters, found in the first space, form the essential part of all writing, and therefore deserve especial care. Also notice that the loop letters, above the line, such as b, f, h, k and l, extend two and one-half spaces above the blue line, while the loop below the line, such as g, f, j, q, y and z, extend one and one-half spaces below the blue line, thus two and one-half and one and one-half making the four spaces of the scale, and the upper loops on one line will just meet the lower loops of the line above, but never conflict, to the destruction of neat body writing. Notice the type of the printer. The extensions above the shorter letters are quite insignificant, and are only used to save the letter from resembling some other letter of the alphabet. They never conflict, and how legible they are.

Besides, to make long loops, requires more time, and more power with the pen, while shorter loops are in every way easier to acquire, quicker, and better. Telegraph operators, some of whom are among our best business penmen, make all extended letters very short, while accountants, and business men, favor the style of short loops, well developed letters, and small capitals.

Apply the principles. Observe regularity. Muscular movement.

Down strokes straight. Up strokes curved.

Principle No. 1. Well formed loop.

These exercises should be practiced with the muscular movement, until they can be made with regularity and ease.

4th principle. Let 3d and 4th fingers slide. Notice the top.

O closed at top. No retracing.

Two spaces high. Down stroke straight.

A rule in writing may be laid down, that all small letters should commence on the blue line, and end one space high.

Discover the principles. Avoid retracing.

Notice form. In w, last part narrow. Make without raising the pen.

Extend two spaces above the line, and one below.

Retracing is an error. The only exception to this is in d, t, p and x, where it becomes [Transcriber's Note: The original text reads 'neccessary'] necessary.

Upper loops have their crossing at the hight of one space, while lower loops cross at the blue line.

Place the capital letters on the scale, analyze them according to principles 6, 7, and 8, and notice their relative proportions.

In order to practice capital letters to advantage, as well as to study them, collect in a group or family all those letters which have some one form or principle as an essential part. Take first the 6th principle, or oval, and we group the letters as follows:

The excellence of an oval depends largely on its fullness and roundness. No corners or flat sides.

Down strokes parallel.

Capital D is a Capital O with a knot on the lower corner.

The letters in which the capital stem, or 7th principle, forms a leading part, may be grouped as follows:

In the H and K, the capital stem is almost straight on the down stroke, in the F and T it is little more of a wave line, and in S and L the line is much of a compound or double curve.

The capital I, and also the J, which is a modified I, are sometimes classed among the capital stem letters, from the resemblance of the I to this principle in all but the top.

The capital loop, or 8th principle, is found as an essential element in:

In the capital loop, or 8th principle, another oval may be made within the large turn at the top, but for practical purposes the letter is perhaps better without it, and may be simplified even more, as in the N below.


Make figures small, neat, and of form exact. Each figure must show for itself, and cannot be known by those which precede or follow it, as is the case with letters. The common tendency is to make figures too large and coarse. Mind the ovals in figures and have them full and round. The chief excellence of the zero lies in its roundness; the 3, 5, 6 or 9, without care in making the ovals, may degenerate into a straight line, or simply a meaningless hook, which it would hardly be safe to use in expressing sums of money, ordering goods, or the transaction of other business.


Having proceeded thus far in the study and practice of writing, and having obtained the proper control of the pen through the movement exercises, all that is necessary now in order to secure a good handwriting, is continued and well-directed practice.

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Charming and fascinating are the graceful and harmonious curves produced, when, wielded by some trained and skillful hand, the pen becomes an instrument of beauty. As by the power of speech, men may pass from the common tone of conversation up to the melodious strains of music, or may soar in flights of oratory into the sublime, until the multitude is entranced; so the capabilities of the pen are not limited to the common uses of life, but may take on forms of beauty in elegant outlines of bird, or landscape, or graceful swan or bounding stag.

Ornamental writing is not a practical art, and has no connection whatever with the practical business of life. It is in the realm of poetry. The imagery of graceful outlines must first be seen by a poetic imagination. While the great masses may acquire a good style of plain, practical penmanship, few have the necessary conception of mind, combined with the skill and dexterity of hand to become successful ornamental penmen.

The ornamental pages which follow are given, not as models for imitation or practice by the learner, but merely to show the possibilities of the pen in the hand of a master, and as a fitting closing to this, our chapter on penmanship.

To any one who may have an artistic quality of mind, and delights in beautiful lines and harmonious curves, these pages of ornamental penmanship will serve as models for practice and imitation, and every attempt at such an exercise as the one on this, or the following pages, will give greater strength and freedom of movement, and better command of the pen, so that it will conduce to an easy, flowing and elegant style of plain business writing, while affording a most pleasant and profitable employment in the cultivation of the taste.

Various beautiful designs or pictures may be made with the pen, in the hands of one that possesses the skill of a penman and the eye of an artist.

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Considering the vast amount of business transacted by correspondence between the parties, Letter Writing seems only second in importance to bookkeeping. The merchant of the smaller cities or towns, perhaps in the far west, desires to order articles of merchandise from the wholesale house in New York or Boston. Possibly a remittance is to be sent. It may be that an error has occurred and needs correction. Credit is to be asked, references given, and a multitude of other matters call for adjustment through correspondence. To write every conceivable variety and shade of meaning, expressing the proper thought in the most fitting and appropriate language, is indeed a rare and valuable accomplishment. And when the proper language takes on the graceful and businesslike air of the well written letter, with its several parts harmoniously arranged, it is a combination of brain and skill which can hardly be overestimated.

This subject, therefore, naturally divides itself into two parts: The Mechanical Structure, and the Literature of a Letter. The former of these being the less difficult will be first considered.


Consists in the arrangement of its several parts, with a view to the most harmonious effect. Excellent penmanship is very desirable, but not absolutely essential. The penmanship may indeed be poor, but the arrangement of the several parts of the letter, the neatness, and finish, may be such as to give it an attractive appearance, while on the other hand, the letter may be clothed in the most elegant penmanship, and yet the construction be such as to stamp its author as a careless and indifferent person, devoid of precision and order.

No one great thing, but many little things carefully watched, and attentively practiced, make up the structure and dress of a business letter, and give it a businesslike air. The penmanship should be a neat, strong hand, very plain and legible, and devoid of all flourish.


The paper and envelopes used in business correspondence should be of a good, durable quality, and a white color is preferable. Cheap materials are not only unsatisfactory to the writer, but may give the reader an unfavorable impression, which would be an injury far exceeding the cost of the best stationery for a life time. Persons form impressions from very little things sometimes.

The size of a letter sheet in business correspondence should be about 8x10 inches. This sheet affords a sufficient space for a communication of ordinary length to be written on one side only, which is essential in case the letter is copied in a letter press. A sheet of paper, note size, (5x8) is oftentimes used for brief communications of no special importance, and not designed to be filed for future reference. Among professional men the commercial note sheet is more extensively used, but with business men the letter size is considered preferable.

The envelope should correspond in size to that of the letter sheet, and should be a trifle longer than one-half the length of the sheet. Thus in a sheet eight by ten inches, one-half the length of the sheet is five inches, and this requires the length of the envelope to be about five and a quarter inches. Its width is usually about three inches. Avoid the use of fancy colored and fancy shaped paper and envelopes. These may not be objectionable in social correspondence among ladies, but the gravity of business affairs does not admit of such display.


With most firms engaged in business it has become a custom to have the business advertisement placed at the head of the letter page, together with street, number and city. Thus leaving only the date to be inserted to complete the heading.

In case the heading of the letter is to be entirely written, it should be placed so as to occupy the right hand half of the first two lines at the top of the page. If, however, the letter is to be a very brief one, occupying only three or four lines, the heading may then be placed lower down on the sheet, so as to bring the body of the letter about the center of the sheet.

Writing from a large city the heading should contain the street and number. Your correspondent, in directing his answer will rely on the address given in the heading of your letter. Never be guilty of the blunder committed by ignorant persons of placing a part of the heading under the signature.

The second line of the heading should begin a little farther to the right than the first line, as seen above.

If the writer has a box at the Post Office and wishes his mail delivered there, he may head his letter, as on the following page:

Writing from the principal cities of the United States it is not necessary to make the name of the state a part of the heading, as that is supposed to be known and understood, but with smaller cities the name of the state also, should be given. Thus, there is a Quincy in Illinois, and also in Massachusetts, and unless the state were mentioned a person answering a letter from Quincy, would not know which state to direct his reply to. In writing from an obscure town or village, not only the state should be given, but the county as well.

The punctuation of the heading and other parts of the letter, is of great importance in the estimation of cultivated persons, and something which can be learned by a little attention on the part of anyone, in examining the forms here given.


A margin three-quarters of an inch in width should be left, on the side of the letter, as shown in the diagram. This is convenient for any mark or memorandum which your correspondent may desire to make concerning anything contained in the letter, but its greater value lies in the open, airy, and cheerful dress which it imparts to the letter. A margin too narrow conveys the idea of stinginess, as if to economize paper, while an irregular or zigzag margin conveys the idea of carelessness or want of precision. On a sheet of note paper the margin may be only one-half inch in width, thus making its width proportionate to the size of the sheet.


On the next line below the heading, that is the third line from the top of the sheet, and beginning at the left margin, should be placed the Address, which consists of the name of the person to whom the letter is written, together with his titles, if any, and his place of residence or business. The letter is not complete without all this, in the estimation of the business man. It does not fully explain itself, if the place of residence is not down as well as the name, and in preserving a letter press copy, this is quite essential for future reference.

Or if the letter is written to a person living or doing business in a large city, thus:

The names and residence should not be allowed to extend further to the right than about the center of the sheet, thus leaving an open space between this and the heading of your letter. In case the names or place of residence should be so long as to require it, they may be placed thus:

The words Dear Sir or Gentlemen are sometimes placed farther to the left, as in the above example, but most business men in their correspondence place this complimentary address with reference to the words above them, about three-quarters of an inch farther to the right, as shown below.

The custom of placing the address beneath the body instead of at the beginning of the letter, is not much in vogue in business circles in this country, most business men preferring to place the name and address at the head of the sheet, and then write at it as if they were talking to the person himself. When, however, the address is placed below the letter it should occupy the same position as to the margin, etc., as if placed at the beginning. The custom is borrowed from the English, and its use is confined mostly to government officials and professional men.


This constitutes the written message. It should begin on the same line with the words Dear Sir, or Gentlemen leaving after these words a small space. In case the place of residence or business is not written in the address, then the complimentary address of Dear Sir or Gentlemen will be placed on the next line under the name, or fourth line from the top of the sheet, and the letter will begin on the fifth line from the top, thus:

Sometimes for the sake of convenience, and the saving of time and labor, the letter head has printed in the left corner, above the address, a blank form of memorandum as follows:

and after this introduction the writer is able speedily to get at the marrow of his letter, without acknowledging the receipt of a former communication.

The body of the letter should be divided into as many paragraphs as there are distinct subjects in the letter, or a new paragraph should be commenced at every change of the subject. The habit which some persons have of tacking one subject to the end of another, and thus making a letter one continuous paragraph of mixed up information, instructions and requests, is extremely objectionable. It destroys the force of what is said, instead of fixing each thought clearly on the mind of the reader; it leaves him confused, and he reads a second time and tries to get his ideas fixed and systematized, or he throws aside the letter until he has more time in which to study it and get the meaning clear.

If the letter is long and is really concerning only one subject, then it may properly be divided into paragraphs by separating the different divisions of the subject, and giving a paragraph to each. These should be arranged in their logical order. Wherever the letter is to contain numerous paragraphs to avoid omitting any of the items, it is best to jot them down on a slip of paper, then embody them in the letter in their natural order.

The first word of each paragraph should be indented, or moved in from the margin, usually about the width of the margin. Thus if the margin is three-fourths of an inch in width, the paragraph should begin three-fourths of an inch from the margin. Some writers, however, prefer to commence the first word of the paragraph an inch from the margin, and it is really not so essential what the distance is, as that it should be uniform, and all the paragraphs begin alike. A little attention is necessary here. In ordering goods make each article a separate paragraph.


The complimentary closing consists of such words as Yours truly, Respectfully, etc., and should be placed on the next line beneath the last one occupied by the body of the letter, commencing a little to the right of the middle. The signature should be placed underneath the words of respect, and begin still a little farther to the right. Thus the conclusion of the letter will correspond in position and arrangement with the heading.

The language of the complimentary closing should be governed by the relation between the parties, and should correspond with the complimentary address. The first letter between strangers should commence with Sir and end with the word Respectfully. After the exchange of a few letters and a sort of business acquaintance may be said to exist between the correspondents, then Dear Sir, and Yours truly, may properly be introduced. A little more cordial would be such a conclusion as the following:

The man of business is apt, however, to have one stereotyped beginning and ending to all his letters, and seldom stops to discriminate between strangers and old customers in this respect. Often the conclusion may be connected to the closing paragraph with perfect grace and ease thus:

In the signature of a letter, especial care should be exercised. Bear in mind that names of persons are not governed by the rules of spelling, and words which precede or follow, proper names will not aid us in deciphering them if they are poorly written.


146 S. Tenth Street, Cincinnati, March 11, 1884, Messrs. Arnold, Constable & Co., Broadway & 19th Sts, New York. Gentlemen: Inclosed please find New York Exchange in settlement of your Invoice of the 1st inst. less Cash discount. Amount of Invoice, $325.80 Cash discount 5% 16.29 ——— Draft inclosed $309.51 The goods have been received, and are very satisfactory in both quality and price. You may expect another order soon. Yours truly, James Z. Wilson Co.]

The young person who would learn to write a good business letter, should, with pen, ink and suitable paper, sit down and practice faithfully after the above model. Write and re-write it a dozen times or more, until your letter resembles it closely. Then take any of the models for letters given near the close of this chapter, and with this matter, write a letter which will conform with the foregoing model in appearance and dress. Write the same matter over again, and improve it in its defects. Criticise each line and word. See that no words or letters are omitted, and that the punctuation is according to the models in this book. Eliminate all ungainly letters, shorten the loops, see that each letter rests on the line, and that, withal your page is clean and regular.

The person who will thus devote a little earnest study and practice, may early acquire the valuable accomplishment of writing a pleasing business letter, so far as the mechanical structure goes.


After the letter is finished, and while it yet lies open before you, the Envelope should be addressed. As before stated, the directions on the envelope must conform to the address at the beginning of the letter, hence the necessity for addressing the envelope before the letter is folded.

The first line of the address of the envelope should consist of the name of the person or firm to whom the letter is written, together with any appropriate titles, and should be written across or a little below the middle of the envelope, but never above it, beginning near the left edge. The space between this first line and the bottom of the envelope should be about equally divided among the other lines, each of which begins still farther to the right than the one above, thus:

When writing to a person in a large city the number and street should be a part of the address, and may be placed as in the above form, or in the left hand lower corner as follows:

In case the letter is addressed in care of any one this should be placed in the lower left corner. If a letter of introduction, the words Introducing Mr. John Smith, or similar words, should be placed in this corner.

Letters addressed to small towns or villages should bear the name of the county as follows:

Or the name of the county may be placed in the lower left corner. The Post Office box number is usually placed in the lower left corner.


Having written an excellent letter, and faultlessly addressed the envelope, all may be easily stamped as unbusiness-like, and spoiled, by improperly performing so simple a part as the folding. Remember that excellent rule that, whatever is worth doing should be well done.

With the letter sheet lying before you, turn the bottom edge up so that it lies along with the top edge, thus making a fold in the middle, which press down with the thumb nail or with a paper folder. Then fold the right edge over so that it falls two-thirds the distance across the sheet, and press down the edge. Next fold the left edge of the sheet over to the right, breaking the fold at the edge of the part folded over just before.

In case a check, note, draft, bill or currency is to be sent by letter, it should be placed on the upper half of the sheet as it lies open, and then the letter should be folded the same as if it were not there. This will fold the paper or document in the letter so that it will be difficult to extract it while being transmitted in the mails, and so that it will not be dropped or lost in opening the letter.

The letter is now folded so that it will be of equal thickness in every part of the envelope. Insert the last broken or folded edge in the envelope first, with original edges of the sheet at the end of the envelope which the stamp is on; when taken from the envelope the letter will then be proper side up.


To be able to compose a letter requires more ability than to give it the proper arrangement and mechanical dress. A mind well stored with useful knowledge as well as command of language, is necessary in writing a letter on general subjects. The strictly business letter requires a thorough understanding of the facts concerning which the letter is written, and these facts to be set forth in plain and unmistakable language. All display of rhetoric or flourish of words is entirely out of place in the sober, practical letter of business. The proper use of capital letters, punctuation, and correct spelling are essential to the well written letter, and with a little care and striving may be easily acquired.


As stated before, each item or subject in a letter should be embraced in a separate paragraph. These should be arranged in the order in which they would naturally come, either in point of time, importance, or as regards policy. Never begin a letter abruptly with a complaint, but rather bring in all unpleasant subjects toward the close. If an answer to a letter of inquiry, take up the questions as they are asked, indicate first what the question is, and then state clearly the answer. The first paragraph should acknowledge the receipt of the communication now to be answered, giving date and indicating its nature and contents, thus:

The closing paragraph usually begins with such words as Hoping, Trusting, Awaiting, Thanking, or similar expressions, and is complimentary in its tone and designed as a courtesy.


Business letters should be brief and to the point. The best letter states clearly all the facts in the fewest words. Brevity is not inconsistent with a long letter, as so much may need to be said as to require a long letter, but all repetitions, lengthy statements and multiplication of words should be avoided. Use short sentences, and make every word mean something. Short sentences are more forcible, and more easily understood or remembered, than long drawn out utterances.


Style refers to the tone, air, or manner of expression. Dignity and strength should characterize the style of the business letter. No ornament of expression or eloquence of language is necessary or appropriate in a correspondence between business men. Come to your meaning at once. State the facts. Let every sentence bristle with points.

The successful business man must possess energy, decision, and force, and these qualities should be conspicuous in his correspondence in order to command respect. Never use loose or slang expressions. The business man should be a gentleman. Indulge in no display of superior knowledge or education, but temper each paragraph with respect and deference to others. The learner who would aspire to write a good letter, should, after having finished his attempt, go over each sentence carefully and wherever the pronoun I occurs, modify the expression so as to leave this out.


In ordering goods of any kind, care should be used to state very explicitly the color, size, quality, and quantity of the articles desired. If manufactured goods, the name of the manufacturer, or his trade mark or brand should be given. Also state when you desire the goods shipped and in what way. If by freight or express, state what Freight line or Express Company.


Paper currency should seldom be trusted to pass through the mails, as the liability to loss is too great. Better send draft or P. O. money order, and in every case the amount of the remittance should be stated in the letter, and also whether by draft or otherwise sent. The letter may become important evidence in regard to payment at some future time.


In giving instructions to agents, manufacturers and others, let each order occupy a separate paragraph. State in unmistakable language the instructions desired to be conveyed. If possible a diagram or plan should be enclosed in the letter. Cautions and complaints, if any, should be clearly set forth in paragraphs near the close of the letter.


State when the debt was contracted, its amount, the fact of it having been long past due, the necessity for immediate payment, and any other facts depending on the peculiarities of the case, which it may seem best to make use of, such as promises to pay, which have not been met; the inconvenience as well as injury and distrust caused by such irregularities, etc.


Be just and truthful, avoiding any stereotyped form in letters of introduction. Never give a letter of introduction unless you have entire confidence in the person to whom it is given; it may reflect on your character or be used against you. Be very guarded that no expressions may be construed into a letter of credit, thus making the writer liable for payment. Use no unfounded statements or assertions, over-estimating your friend, as these may prove untrue.

Willing to extend a favor to a friend by giving a letter of introduction, do not be guilty of introducing him to any one in whom he may not place confidence, as he might be a loser by such.


128 Jackson Street, RICHMOND, VA., May 24, 18—.

Messrs. JONES & SMITH, 867 Market St., Philadelphia.

Gentlemen: Please ship me by Fast Freight as soon as possible the following goods:

3 hhds. N. O. Molasses. 1 bbl. Granulated Sugar. 5 chests English Breakfast Tea. 2 sacks Mocha Coffee, wanted not ground. 5 boxes Colgate's Toilet Soap.

I will remit the amount of the invoice immediately upon the receipt of the goods. Yours respectfully, JAMES C. ADAMS.

* * * * *


RICHMOND, IND., Dec. 29, 18—.

Messrs. MARSHALL FIELD & Co., Chicago, Ill.

Gentlemen: Please forward me by American Express at once 1 Lancaster Spread, $3.50 12 yds. Gingham, small check. (15c.) 1.80 3 doz. Napkins ($3.00), 9.00 ——- $14.30 For which I inclose P.O. Money order.

Hoping to receive the goods without delay, I am,

Respectfully, WILLIAM L. MILLER.

* * * * *


DAYTON, OHIO, Oct. 12, 18—.

Messrs. HOLMES & WILSON, Detroit, Mich.

Gentlemen: Having recently established myself in the retail Hardware trade in this city, with fair prospects of success, and being in need of new goods from time to time, would like to open an account with your highly respectable house.

My capital is small, but I have the satisfaction of knowing that what little I possess is the fruit of my own industry and saving. I can refer you to the well known firm of Smith, Day & Co., of this city, as to my character and standing.

Should my reference prove satisfactory, please forward me at once by U.S. Express,

2 Butchers' Bow Saws 1/2 doz. Mortise Locks, with Porcelain Knobs. 2 kegs 8d Nails,

and charge to my account.

Hoping that my order may receive your usual prompt attention, I am,

Yours respectfully, HENRY M. BARROWS.

* * * * *


LEXINGTON, KY., June 25, 18—.

Messrs. DODGE, MANOR & DEVOE, New York City.

Gentlemen: Please allow the bearer of this, Mr. James Curtis, a credit for such goods as he may select, not exceeding One Thousand dollars, and if he does not pay for them, I will. Please notify me in case he buys, of the amount, and when due, and if the account is not settled promptly according to agreement, write me at once.

Yours truly, HIRAM DUNCAN.

* * * * *


125 Lake Street, CHICAGO, Nov. 15, 18—.

SAMUEL D. PRENTICE, Esq., Vevay, Ind.

Dear Sir: Inclosed please find invoice of goods amounting to $218.60, shipped you this day by the B. & O. Express, as per your order of the 11th inst.

Hoping that the goods may prove satisfactory, and that we may be favored with further orders, we remain,

Yours truly, SIBLEY, DUDLEY & CO.

* * * * *


168 Olive Street, ST. LOUIS, June 4, 18—.

HENRY M. BLISS, Esq., Boston.

Dear Sir: This will introduce to you the bearer, Mr. William P. Hainline, of this city who visits Boston, for the purpose of engaging in the Hat, Cap and Fur trade.

He is a young man of energy and ability, and withal, a gentlemen in every sense.

Any assistance you may render him by way of introduction to your leading merchants or otherwise, in establishing his new enterprise will be duly appreciated by both himself and

Yours truly, JAMES W. BROOKING.

* * * * *


MILWAUKEE, WIS., Feb. 18, 18—.

Messrs. ARNOLD, CONSTABLE & Co., New York.

Gentlemen: The goods ordered of you on the 3d inst. have been received and are entirely satisfactory in both reality and price.

Enclosed please find New York exchange for $816.23, the amount of your bill.

Thanking you for your promptness in filling my order, I am,

Yours respectfully, HENRY GOODFELLOW.

* * * * *


NEW YORK, Aug. 8, 18—.

Messrs. WEBSTER & DUNN, Cairo, Ill.

Gentlemen: Inclosed we hand you Draft at 30 days for acceptance for $928.15, the amount of balance due from you to us to the present date. We shall feel obliged by your accepting the same, and returning it by due course of mail.

Awaiting further favors, we are,

Very truly yours, DODGE, HOLMES & CO.

* * * * *


CHICAGO, March 1, 18—.

Messrs. CHASE & HOWARD, South Bend, Ind.

Gentlemen: Inclosed please find a statement of your account for the past three months, which we believe you will find correct.

We shall feel obliged by your examining the same at your earliest convenience, and shall be happy to receive your check for the amount or instructions to draw on you in the ordinary course.

We are, gentlemen, Yours truly, J.V. FARWELL & CO.

* * * * *


DENVER, COL., June 30, 18—.

JAMES C. ADAMS, Esq., Great Bend, Kansas.

Dear Sir: Allow me to remind you that your account with me has been standing for several months unsettled.

I should not even now have called your attention to it, were it not that in a few days I must meet a heavy bill, and must rely in part on your account to furnish me the means.

I would, therefore, esteem it a great favor if you would let me have either the whole, or at least the greater part of your account in the course of a week or ten days.

Thanking you for past favors, I remain, Sir,

Yours truly, A.R. MORGAN.

* * * * *


Paste the Advertisement at the head of the sheet, and write as follows:

124 Fayette Street, SYRACUSE, N. Y., Sept. 17, 18—


Dear Sir: In reply to the above advertisement I would respectfully offer my services.

I am 19 years of age, have a good education, and have had some experience in business, having assisted my father in his grocery store. I am not afraid of work, and never allow myself to be idle when there is work to be done. I can refer you as to my character, to Mr. J.H. Trout, president of the Gas Company, who has known me all my life.

In reference to salary, I leave that with you, but feel certain that I could earn five dollars per week for you.

Hoping to have the pleasure of an interview, I remain,

Respectfully, HENRY OTIS.

* * * * *


SYRACUSE, N. Y., Sept. 17, 18—.

J.H. TROUT, Esq.,

Dear Sir:

I beg to inform you that in applying for a situation this morning, advertised in the Journal, I took the liberty of using your name as a reference. The length of time I have been honored with your acquaintance, and the words of encouragement which you have given me heretofore, lead me to hope you would speak favorably in this instance, adding this to the numerous obligations already conferred upon

Your obedient servant, HENRY OTIS.

* * * * *


NEWARK, OHIO, June 15, 18—.

Mr. J.D. SHAYLOR, Denver, Col.

My Dear Sir: As I told you a year ago, I have been thinking seriously of disposing of my small business here and locating in some live and promising city out west, where I can grow up with the country as you are doing.

Will you have the kindness to sit down and write me at your convenience, full information in regard to the prospects of business, price of rents, cost of living, etc., in your city, and any other information, especially in regard to the hardware trade.

If you will thus kindly give me the facts on which I can base a calculation, and all is favorable, I will probably visit Denver this fall, and eventually become your neighbor.

Yours very truly, J.O. GOODRICH.

* * * * *


GRAND HAVEN, Mich., May 17, 18—.


Mr. Henry McPherson, who is now leaving our employ, has been in our office for the past two years, during which time he has faithfully attended to his duties, proving himself to be industrious and thoroughly reliable. He is a good penman, correct accountant, and acquainted with correspondence.

We shall at any time cheerfully respond to all applications we may have regarding his character and abilities, and wish him every success.

Yours truly, WOOD & HILL.

* * * * *


DAVENPORT, IA., Dec. 10, 18—.

JAS. L. BINGHAM & CO., Cedar Rapids, Ia.

Gentlemen: On the 1st of January next the partnership for the past ten years existing between Geo. H. Clark and Henry Webster, wholesale grocers in this City, will expire by limitation of the contract.

The firm takes this opportunity to thank its customers and friends for their generous patronage and support, whereby the business of the house grew to such large proportions.

After the first of January the business will be carried on at the old stand, Nos. 76 and 78 Main St., by Henry Webster and Cyrus D. Bradford, under the firm name of Webster & Bradford. We are, gentlemen,

Your obedient servants, CLARK & WEBSTER.

* * * * *


CINCINNATI, OHIO, Dec. 15, 18—.


It is with some feeling of regret that we announce our retirement from the business on the beginning of the new year. Our stock and premises will then be transferred to Messrs. Franklin and Warren, whom we cheerfully present to your notice, and feel it our duty to recommend them for a continuance of that liberal confidence and patronage which you have bestowed on us during the past twenty years.

Both these young gentlemen have been clerks of ours for several years past, and are in every way efficient and capable to continue the business.

We are Respectfully, JOHNSON & FOX

* * * * *


In order to succeed in business life, it is necessary to cultivate and develop certain qualities and traits of character. These are a portion of the capital of the successful man, and a more essential portion than money or goods.


"Sharp practice" may bring a temporary gain but in the long run of life that man will be far ahead who deals squarely and honestly at all times. A thoroughly honest clerk will command a higher salary than one of equivocal habits, while the merchant who has a reputation for honesty and truthfulness in regard to the quality and value of his goods, will on this account he favored with a considerable custom. The business man whose "word is as good as his bond" can in any emergency, control large amounts of capital, the use of which brings him a rich return, while the man who sells his neighbor's good opinion for a temporary gain, will find that he has discounted his future success, but taking an advantage at the cost of ten tines its value.


No other quality can take the place of this, and no talents of mind, however excellent, will bring success without labor; persistent systematic labor. The young man who expects to find some royal road to success with little or no effort, or who imagines that his mental abilities will compensate for a lack of application, cheats and ruins himself. Horace Greeley probably never said a grander thing than this: "The saddest hour in any man's career is that wherein he, for the first time, fancies there is an easier was of gaining a dollar than by squarely earning it." and Horace Greeley was himself an example of success through industry.


It is not genius, but the great mass of average people, who work, that make the successes in life. Some toil with the brain, and others toil with the hand, but all must toil. Industry applies to hours in business and out of business. It means not only to perform all required work promptly, but to occupy spare moments usefully, not to idle evenings, and to rise early in the morning.

An [Transcriber's Note: The original text reads 'employe'] employee should not confine himself to his mere obligatory duties. He should be ready to work sometimes over hours or in other departments if it is desired of him. Willingness to work is one of the finest qualities in a character, and will compensate for many other deficiencies.


This faculty, always so useful, is pre-eminently so to the business man. It must be both retentive and quick. By proper training this faculty may be so cultivated that names, dates and events to a surprising number may be readily recalled. The ability to greet a customer by calling him by name is considered very valuable in any class of business. It makes a very agreeable impression when a man who has not seen us but once or twice, and who is not expecting us, meets us promptly as we enter his store, with, "Why, Mr. ——, how do you do? Glad to see you. When did you leave Newark?" We feel as if we had occupied that man's thoughts since we saw him before. He appreciates us, and we feel like patronizing him. Whereas, on the other hand to meet a customer with a blank, inquiring expression, and greet him with, "Your face is familiar, but I can't recall your name." is unpleasant and tends to drive away custom. Every hotel keeper knows the value of this greeting of customers. Facts, figures and dates are very necessary to remember in business, and these often form the basis of a business transaction or venture by which large profits are made. Superior ability in remembering prices and their fluctuations has been the secret of more than one brilliant success.

Desultory reading injures the memory, while close application to a subject, recalling the various points therein, tends greatly to improve this faculty. The clerk or employee [Transcriber's Note: The original text reads 'employe'] in receiving instructions from his principal should endeavor to impress every point clearly on his mind, and retain them there until they are carried out in action. Carelessness and forgetfulness often causes the discharge of otherwise worthy and competent young persons, as employers do not like to repeat their orders.


A very essential element in the character of the business man is promptness. Filling all engagements at exactly the appointed time, answering letters or forwarding goods with promptness, the man of business finds that much more can be accomplished and with far greater accuracy, than by a loose system of putting off till tomorrow, or according to convenience. Not only so, but competition in business is such that the merchant or tradesman who does not deal with promptness can hardly expect to hold his custom. Young men starting out in the world should form the resolution of doing everything on time. Better to be ahead in the performance of duties than behind. This promptness then acts as a stimulant in itself, and is oftentimes the means of winning success in an enterprise.

A thing that is worth the doing, ought to be done quickly when the time is ripe for it. A prompt man or woman is valued, as he respects his word and has due regard for the convenience of others.


Wavering, timid and uncertain, the man without executive ability never achieves distinction in active life. Intelligence to decide on any measure, firmness in adhering to the decision, and force of will in carrying it out, constitute executive ability, and are as essential to the business man as his stock in trade.

The timid man never makes up his mind until after the opportunity is past, or decides, then recalls his decision, and feels incapable of promptly estimating all the facts in the case. This weakness is oftentimes natural, but more frequently it is a bad habit which should be broken up.

Rashness is to decide and act without taking the trouble to weigh intelligently the facts in the case. This is inexcusable folly, and always brings serious trouble sooner or later.

Through executive ability the labor or services of one man may be made to produce largely, or without proper direction such services may be almost worthless; and in the case of many employees [Transcriber's Note: The original text reads 'employes'] under one executive head, the results of this combined labor may be great success, or where executive ability is wanting, a great failure.

The successful farmer, merchant, manufacturer, banker, and professional man must have this combination of ability, firmness, and will power.


Those who put their minds on their work, whatever kind that may be, and persist in its thorough execution; who get interested in something for their own advancement, that they may become more capable as men and women of sense and tact; such persons have a lively appreciation of the fact that success is never more certain to be gained by any other course.

These people have a just pride in learning the best methods of giving expression to the faculties and powers they possess, and which they desire to make the most of. It is incumbent that they do all in their power for their own and other people's good. Feeling this, an ever present incentive keeps them employed, and they are never idle.

If one does not succeed from persisting in doing the best he knows how, he may conclude that the ministry of failure is better for him than any worldly success would be.


Good behavior is an essential element of our civilization. It should be displayed every day through courteous acts and becoming manners.

Politeness is said to be the poetry of conduct; and like poetry, it has many qualities. Let not your politeness he too florid, but of that gentle kind which indicates a refined nature.

In his relations with others, one should never forget his good breeding. It is a general regard for the feelings of others that springs from the absence of all selfishness. No one should behave in the presence of others as though his own wishes were bound to be gratified or his will to control.

In the more active sphere of business, as in the larger localities where there is close competition, the small merchant frequently outstrips his more powerful rival by one element of success, which may be added to any stock without cost, but cannot be withheld without loss. That element is civility. A kind and obliging manner carries with it an indescribable charm. It must not be a manner that indicates a mean, groveling, timeserving spirit, but a plain, open, and agreeable demeanor that seems to desire to oblige for the pleasure of doing so, and not for the sake of squeezing an extra penny out of a customer's purse.


The sole reliance of a business man should be in the integrity of his transactions, and in the civility of his demeanor. He should make it the interest and the pleasure of a customer to come to his office or store. If he does this, he will form the very best "connections," and so long as he continues this system of business, they will never desert him.

No real business man will take advantage of a customer's ignorance, nor equivocate nor misrepresent. If he sells goods, he will have but one price and a small profit. He will ere long find all the most profitable customers—the cash ones—or they will find him.

If such a man is ever deceived in business transactions, he will never attempt to save himself by putting the deception upon others; but submit to the loss, and be more cautious in future. In his business relations, he will stick to those whom he finds strictly just in their transactions, and shun all others even at a temporary disadvantage.

The word of a business man should be worth all that it expresses and promises, and all engagements should be met with punctilious concern. An indifferent or false policy in business is a serious mistake. It is fatal to grasp an advantage at ten times its cost; and there is nothing to compensate for the loss of a neighbor's confidence or good will.

The long-established customs and forms of business, which in these times are assumed to be legitimate, already have within them enough of the elements of peculiarity, commonly termed "tricks of trade," or, in the sense of any particular business, "tricks of the trade." Therefore it does not behoove any active man to make gratuitous additions of a peculiar nature to the law of business. On the contrary, all should strive to render business transactions less peculiar than they are.


One may rest in the assurance that industry and economy will be sure to tell in the end. If in early life these habits become confirmed, no doubt can exist as to the ultimate triumph of the merchant in attaining a competency.

There should be no antagonism between economy and a generous business policy. Narrow selfishness is to be avoided in the use of money or means. In buying goods, one should not take advantage of another's necessities to beat him down to a figure which leaves him little or no profit, perhaps a loss, because he must have money. This is against manhood and is a ruinous policy, because it tends to picayunishness and chicanery. A sacred regard for the principles of justice forms the basis of every transaction, and regulates the conduct of the upright man of business.

If economy is wealth, it is not so because of a niggardly and parsimonious policy. Perhaps the simplest, fewest and best rules for economical business are these, by observance of which a noted merchant amassed a large fortune: 1. Obtain the earliest and fullest information possible in regard to the matter in hand. 2. Act rapidly and promptly upon it. 3. Keep your intentions and means secret. 4. Secure the best [Transcriber's Note: The original text reads 'employes'] employees you can obtain, and reward them liberally.

Proprietors of institutions will early discover that order, and neatness, are necessary as economical agents in prosecuting a successful business. And the youth who would grow up to become well-to-do, to gain complete success, to be a valuable member and assume a position in society, should take pains to acquire habits of cleanliness, of order, and of business.

To this effect each one may early learn the simple rules of health and good order by paying reasonable attention to those so-called minor details, which pertain to the well-being of the person, and which must be faithfully observed in order to avoid failure and win success.

A person, young or old, in or out of business, may keep a memorandum-book in his pocket, in which he notes every particular relative to appointments, addresses, and petty cash matters. An accurate account of personal expenses should be kept, which should be balanced each week. By this means each individual will be more careful and economical in his expenditures, and generally live within his income. He must be reasonable in spending, or his memorandum or record-book, if it be honestly kept, will stand to his discredit.

A well-kept memorandum-book is often very useful, as it is very convenient, and sometimes serves to settle a troublesome query, arising in other minds, by which the possessor is absolved from the prejudice of doubt. Young people who expect to labor with their hands for what they have of this world's goods, or rise by their own efforts, should by all means acquire habits of economy, learn to save, form correct habits, and no time will be required overcoming these. So surely as they do this, so surely will they be in a situation to ask no special favors. Every man wants to learn to look out for himself and rely upon himself. Every man needs to feel that he is the peer of every other man, and he cannot do it if he is penniless. Money is power, and those who have it exert a wider influence than the destitute. Hence it should be the ambition of all young men to acquire it, as well as to store their minds with useful knowledge.


In seeking a situation, it is always best to appear in person if practicable. A business man who requires the services of a salesman or clerk, a bookkeeper, stenographer, or some one to remain in his employ a considerable time, usually prefers to see an applicant and have a few words with him about the work that is to be done.

If an application has to be made by letter, it should be done in the handwriting of the applicant. It may be brief, and should include references.

It is best for a young man to learn a trade. In this country the trades offer more stable means of subsistence than do other departments of active life. His knowledge of a trade will form no bar to any effort he may afterward make to rise to a higher or more congenial calling.

When a position has been obtained by an applicant, he should at once proceed to render himself indispensable to his employer by following up the details of his work in a conscientious and agreeable manner. Thus he will gain confidence and grow in favor with men who are quick to recognize merit, and who respond to that which contributes to the success of a meritorious man.

There is always room in every business for an honest, hard-worker. It will not do to presume otherwise; nor should one sit down to grumble or concoct mischief. The most perilous hour of one's life is when he is tempted to despond. He who loses, his courage loses all. There are men in the world who would rather work than be idle at the same price. Imitate them. Success is not far off. An honorable and happy life is before you. Lay hold of it.

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The desire to accumulate property is one of the noblest that nature has implanted in man, and it is through the successful results of this desire, we are enabled to point with unerring certainty to the disembarking line, which so surely characterizes the advanced educated, refined and civilized man from that of the wild savage, whose highest desire is to slay and rob his fellow men, and proudly exhibit their scalps, or the plunder he has acquired, as evidence of his cunning or courage.

It is through this inborn desire to accumulate that man is willing to labor, toil, suffer, and forego present gratifications for the hope of future greater satisfactions; that has resulted in the building and equiping the mighty ships of commerce, whose white, spreading canvas dots every sea where commerce may be known, or where the interests of God's creatures may best be served. It is through this desire, coupled with unremitting toil, that we owe everything of permanent enjoyment, of enlightenment and of prosperity. The millions of dollars of paper money which is handled every day as the natural fruit of toil and saving through the many and diversified transactions in the vast, illimitable and ever rapidly developing field of commerce, is but the representative of ownership of property.

If this representative is what it purports on its face to be, each and every one who receives it in exchange for services or commodities, owns not merely a piece of paper, with designs, words and promises printed or engraved thereon, but an interest or an undivided whole in a farm, a block of buildings or a store well stocked with merchandise, which, in his estimation, at least, is more desirable to him than the labor or commodity for which he has voluntarily made the exchange; but, if on the contrary, it is other than what it purports on its face to be, he finds that he is the owner of a piece of paper whose value is nil.

There is, at the present writing, 1884, nearly eight hundred million dollars of paper currency in the United States, consisting of greenbacks and national currency, a great portion of which is in actual circulation, and it has been estimated by eminent authorities, who occupy positions of trust in the various departments through which the financial machinery of this vast sea of paper money is daily circulated, that there is in circulation nearly one-fifth of this amount in counterfeit money, or about one hundred and sixty million dollars; and not one dollar of this counterfeit money owes its circulation to any excellence of the work in its manufacture, but wholly to the general ignorance of those who handle it, as to what is required to constitute a genuine bill. The time will come when the United States will redeem all of its issue of paper money, when those who are holding any of this counterfeit money will have to stand the loss to the extent of the sum in their possession. To all of those who are willing to take a small portion of their time each day for a few weeks in learning just what it takes to constitute a genuine bill, there need be no necessity of ever losing anything by counterfeiters, as it is impossible for them to make bills which will in any way approach the beauty and exactness of the genuine ones. There is not at the present time, nor has there ever been in the past, nor will there ever be in the future, a counterfeit bill made that cannot be detected at sight; and the positive knowledge of how to know at all times when a bill is genuine and when not is within the reach of all those who may have the privilege of reading the following information or infallible rules with a genuine desire to be benefited thereby.


Various devices are resorted to by a numerous gang or body of persons, to get on in the world without turning their attention to legitimate and useful employments. This class includes many that are not engaged in the practice of counterfeiting and putting forth bad money, but who make themselves felt in various ways through vain tricks and schemes, which are, to all intents and purposes, frauds.

Business men are generally apt at detecting and turning off petty schemes, but they find it best to have the means with which they may deal successfully as against regular swindlers, forgers and counterfeiters.


As indicated above, counterfeit notes are issued and put into the channels of circulation in abundance every year by those engaged in the practice of counterfeiting. These notes are often such good imitations of the genuine that it is quite difficult to discern the difference.

That he may protect himself, each business man should have some definite knowledge of a genuine bank-note.

The engraving of a genuine bank note, in most all of its parts, is done by machinery, and it is more exact and perfect. On the contrary, most all parts of counterfeit notes are done by hand.

Counterfeiters cannot afford to purchase machinery, such as is used for the production of genuine notes. The cost of such machinery is between $100,000, and $150,000, and if it were in wrong hands it would be always liable to seizure and confiscation.

In order to prevent the forgery of bank-notes, a great deal of ingenuity and art has been expended on their production. The principal features of the manufacture are described as a peculiar kind of paper and water mark; an elaborate design, printed with a peculiar kind of ink, and certain private marks, known only by the bank officials.

The work of counterfeiters can never equal that of the makers of genuine notes, whose skill and facilities for producing the highest grade of work known to the art, are the best that the world affords.

Unless one is somewhat learned as to the quality of engraving, that he may be able to distinguish a fine specimen of the art when he sees it, he is likely to become a victim of the counterfeiter's operations.


When the genuineness of a bank-note is doubted, the Lathe Work on the note should first be closely scrutinized. The several letters of denomination, circles, ovals, and shadings between and around the letters in the words, etc., are composed of numberless extremely fine lines—inclusive of lines straight, curved and network. These are all regular and unbroken, never running into each other, and may be traced throughout with a magnifying glass.

Without the skill or machinery, by which the genuine is produced, the same quality of work cannot be done. Therefore, in a counterfeit, the lines are imperfect, giving the paper a dull or hazy aspect, that may be all the better appreciated by comparing it with the genuine. The lines in the counterfeit will be found now and then irregular in size, and broken: not uniform in course, sometimes heavy, sometimes light: no two stamps or dies on the same note being exactly alike.

The fine, uniform, shade-lines, with which the letters on the genuine are embellished, are wrought by a machine that cannot be reproduced by counterfeiters, nor used for other than legitimate purposes, by authority.


The fine line is the characteristic of the various and beautiful figures which are seen on a genuine note. This line is produced by what is called the Geometrical Lathe. The patterns made by the geometrical lathe are of every variety of form. They are not engraved directly upon the bank-note plate, but on pieces of soft steel plate, which are afterwards hardened. The impressions are then transferred to a soft steel roller, which, in its turn, is also hardened, and the impressions remain there, in relief. This roller is then capable of transferring the same designs to the bank-note plate by means of the transfer press.

In counterfeit engraving, the design is made directly upon the plate, and not by transfer, as in the production of plates for genuine notes. The essential difference between the two methods of production is, the counterfeit is made by hand, and is inexact and imperfect, while the genuine is made on geometrical principles, and is therefore exact, artistic and beautiful.

In all the government issues the geometric lathe work is liberally used. This should be studied carefully, as it constitutes the chief test of genuineness.

Fine lines, of unerring exactness, never broken, are seen on the genuine medallion heads, or shields, upon which the designation of the note is sometimes stamped. This nicety cannot be given by hand, or with the use of imperfect machinery. By close scrutiny the lines will be found to break off in the pattern, or appear forked, irregular in size, and not well defined throughout.

On most counterfeits the vignettes are not well engraved, and the portraits have a dull appearance; the letters are usually wanting in clearness; the printing is sometimes faulty, by which some features of the note are obscured.


In Ruling Engine Work, as it is called, the fine line is present, also. The engraving is produced and transferred in the same way as the geometrical lathe work. In this they are parallel and not in circles. Those which constitute the shading of letters are so fine that they form a perfectly even gray shade. They may be printed so that the shading will appear darker, but the aspect will be uniform. The spaces between lines are exact, whether the lines be horizontal or diagonal. The lines are also made crooked or wave-like, not absolutely parallel. Ruling engine work is generally used for shading of names of banks, and also for the names of town, state, etc.


While lathe work and that of the ruling engine are invariably machine work, and therefore cannot be successfully reproduced by counterfeiters, the Vignettes are chiefly the work of the hands. In all genuine work they are made by first class artists, who are well paid for their services, and who therefore have no incentive to exercise their skill for illegitimate purposes.

Sometimes water and sky are done with the ruling engine, and when they are, no counterfeiter can successfully imitate them. Fine vignettes are seldom seen on counterfeit notes. If the lathe and ruling engine work be genuine, an ordinary vignette cannot make a note counterfeit, and if that be counterfeit, no vignette can make the note genuine.

The vignettes on genuine notes are executed by men at the head of their vocation, and are very life-like and beautiful. Counterfeit vignettes usually have a sunken and lifeless appearance. Genuine vignettes, as seen upon government issues, consist of out-door scenes, portraits, historical pictures, and allegorical figures. They are all exceedingly beautiful, and it is not likely that such work will ever be successfully imitated.


The lettering, or solid print, in genuine work is done by a first-class artist, who makes that kind of work his exclusive concern. The name of the engraving company is always engraved with great pains and is very accurate. It will be seen on the upper and lower margin of the note. This, in counterfeits, is not quite uniform or even. The words "one dollar," as on the one dollar greenbacks, are to be considered as a sample of solid print.


Bank-notes are printed upon paper composed of linen, the qualify of which is not always the same, and it varies in thickness. Therefore, the paper is not always a sure test, but it is important. The manufacture of this paper is a profound secret, as carefully kept as the combinations to the great vaults where the government's millions lie awaiting further river and harbor bills. It is made only at the Dalton mill, which dates back almost to colonial days. What its combinations are nobody knows except those intimately connected with its manufacture. The secret of the paper-making is jealously guarded, as is also the paper itself. From the moment it is made until it gets into the treasury vaults it is carefully guarded. It goes there in small iron safes, the sheets carefully counted, and all precautions against its loss being taken both by the government officials and by the express companies which carry it.


Sometimes genuine notes are stolen before they are signed; then the only thing about them made counterfeit is the signatures. Those who are familiar with the signatures of the officers of the bank where notes are purloined, may not be lead into error, as such signatures usually appear more or less cramped or unsteady; but there is no sure protection against a counterfeit of this kind for those who do not have special knowledge of the signatures.


Bank-notes are altered in two ways, namely: raising the denomination, and changing the name of a broken to that of a responsible bank.

First, in altering a note, it is scraped until thin: then figures of larger denomination are pasted over. A pasted note may be detected by holding it up to the light, when the pasted parts will appear darker, as they are thicker.

Second, the denomination of a note is raised by taking out a low one with an acid, and printing in a higher one with a counterfeit stamp. The ink used in genuine bank-note printing is a peculiar kind, and not easily to be obtained by counterfeiters: therefore, their printing will not appear as clear and bright as that of the government, which is done with ink of the finest quality. If the ink is black, it gives a clear and glossy impression, without any of that smutty appearance, as is sometimes seen in counterfeit bank-notes. It is almost impossible to imitate the green ink that is used by the government, and it is nearly as difficult to imitate the red and other colors. Counterfeit inks look dull and muddy, while genuine inks have a glossy appearance.

In the case of a note altered by the use of acid, it may be noticed that the acid, by spreading more than was intended by the counterfeiter, has injured parts of other letters, and the paper will appear more or less stained by the acid.


A counterfeit should be compared with one that is genuine, in order to familiarize one's self with the distinguishing features which have already been indicated.

It is best to acquire the habit of giving each note as received a searching glance, turning it over to see the back, and if there be any defect, it will probably catch the eye. If there be the least suspicion, a critical examination of all its parts should be made.

In case of doubt, the lathe work should be carefully examined, and it may be compared with a perfectly good bill; then examine the shading around the letters, and search for any sign of alteration in the title or denomination of the note. If there are any medallion heads or shields, notice the lines; if there is any red letter work, designed to appear on both sides, look at the character of the work on the face, then turn the note and examine the back. If the printing is not exactly alike on both sides, but varies in any part the note is counterfeit. Then observe the vignettes and portraits, to see whether their style and perfection compare well with the work on genuine notes. Then examine the solid print and engravers' names, as well as the printing, ink, and paper. By such thorough examination, one can hardly be at a loss to determine the status of the note.

Good magnifying glasses are necessary, in most instances, to bring out the fine lines on bank-notes. Sometimes a microscope of great power is required to discern the genuine line.


Counterfeiters sometimes make ten bills of nine by what is termed piecing. Thus, a counterfeit note is cut into ten pieces by the counterfeiter, and these pieces are used in piecing nine genuine bills, from each of which a piece has been cut. The nine genuine pieces, thus obtained, are then pasted together, and with the tenth counterfeit piece added, make a tenth bill, which is the gain.

Piecing bank-bills is not a very successful practice. One who possesses such information as here given, can readily detect the difference between the counterfeit and the genuine. This difference is, however, made less apparent by the counterfeiter, who defaces the counterfeit part, so as to give the note a worn appearance. Counterfeiting is rendered very difficult in consequence of the remarkable excellence of the work on the government and national currency, as also from the difficulty of imitating the green. But this currency, if successfully imitated by counterfeiters, will repay large outlay and care, as the greenbacks pass anywhere in the nation, and a counterfeit may be carried to other states or sections as it becomes known in any particular locality. National bank currency may be counterfeited by preparing a plate, and then with simple change in the name of the bank the counterfeit can be adapted to the various towns where banks are located. This much is written, not to lessen the value of or confidence in the issues of the government, but to admonish the public against the dangers of a false security.

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Volumes might be written on the necessity of, and the various methods employed for, advertising. Many prosperous men owe their success in life to judicious and liberal advertising. In this age of strong competition in the various avenues of trade, he who does not advertise his wares will probably be outdone by a more ambitious dealer, with perhaps a poorer article, who advertises liberally. People go where they are invited, and the merchant who advertises freely, places his store and windows in attractive order, and leaves the door open, will do far more business than he who does not cater to the public, is indifferent about appearances, gruff, and complaining of hard times.

Horace Greeley laid it down as a rule that a merchant should advertise equal to his rent. This, like all good rules, ought to have exceptions. An old and well established business would not require so much, while a new enterprise would require more than this amount expended judiciously in advertising. The merchant should decide at the beginning of the year about, what amount he may expend in advertising during the year, and then endeavor to place that amount in the best possible manner before the public.

An advertiser should not be discouraged too soon. Returns are often slow and inadequate. Time is required to familiarize the public with a new article or new name. Some men have given up in despair, when just on the eve of reaping a harvest of success by this means. Many of the most prosperous and wealthy business men in this country have at times been driven hard to meet their advertising bills, but they knew that this was their most productive outlay, and by persistently continuing it they weathered the storm.

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