Lot 49 of 419:
Letters from Arthur M. Scott on Quicksilver mine  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$3,600
$5,000 - $8,000

"Manifold Writer" with carbon copies of letters written by Irving Murray Scott regarding economic analysis of a quicksilver mine

Scott, Irving Murray

San Francisco



77 leaves with carbons of handwritten letters by Irving Murray Scott on rectos, plus unused leaves at end. 10½x8, original morocco-backed mottled boards. Copy book containing carbons of letters from mechanical engineer/industrialist Irving Murray Scott (1837-1903), relating to the operations and fiscal status of the XLCR/Redington quicksilver mine in northern California. A native of Maryland, Scott moved to San Francisco in 1858, engaged as draughtsman at the Union iron-works, San Francisco, California, where he remained until 1862. After a year at the Miner's foundry in S.F., he returned to the iron-works, eventually rising to partner and general manager. The firm became notable for the many warships it built, but it was always heavily involved in the mining industry and innovations in mining equipment. The present copybook contains analysis by Scott of a quicksilver mine, and is quite significant in its scope and detail. In the initial 21-page evaluation of the mine, dated November 24, 1871, Scott, writing to Messrs. J.H. Green & John H. Redington, gives an appraisal and evaluation of the XLCR (pronounced Excelsior) mine in the Morgan Valley/ Knoxville area of California, later renamed the Redington, Boston and finally Knoxville mine, which became perhaps the state's third largest mercury mine after the legendary New Idria and New Almaden mines. He begins with a listing of the physical assets of the mine, including buildings, equipment, livestock and more. He then gives a description of the “Working of the Mine”: “…The mines appear to have been worked upon the Mexican plan using no timbers, and leaving pillars to support the chambers. As usual in such cases these chambers have caved to some extent. They are now working from the ninety-feet-level upwards using timbers, leaving dump holes, and filling in the waste…” He speaks of the ventilation “Good ventilation is maintained in all parts of the mine by connections with shafts, and drifts, and by pipe conveying air supplied from two Sturdevant blowers number four which are driven by a vertical engine…”; drainage “The drainage is effected through a vertical shaft 4 feet square and 224 feet deep, in which limited space two pumps 8 inches diameter and 6 feet stroke…”; hoisting “The hoisting of ores and waste the lowering of tools, timbers and incidentals are done through what is known as the Redington shaft…” Also sections on Handling of Ores; The Furnaces; Yield of Quicksilver, etc. He gives detailed cost analysis on such activities and processes as Cost – Mining, Raising and Sorting; Cost of Roasting 140 tons; Freight on one ton of Quicksilver; Cost delivered in San Francisco of one ton of Quicksilver; Its value in San Francisco, and more. He gives estimates of profit per year at different prices for the quicksilver, coming up with $692,331 as the median figure. He gives detailed descriptions of improvements that could be initiated in the mining and processing of the ore, the cost of such improvements, and the benefit to the bottom line. He give an overall net value to the mine, including the costs of needed improvements, of $1,515,346.88. He estimates the annual income from the mine to be $903,324.00, “a nearly five per cent per month” return. In his conclusion, Scott maintains that even “allowing the yield to be one half of my estimate, and the Quicksilver market at the lowest point yet reached your enterprise will pay over fourteen percent per annum on the valuation.” On February 16th, 1872, Scott writes again to J.H. Green, the first in a series of letters asking for a response to his detailed economic analysis, “Livermore has expressed himself several times, as not in favor of giving you a single hours grace, so keep your eyes open and come to the scratch or lose your chance to obtain a fine property, cheap, ore yield about the same as usual…” He offers further analysis and support of his conclusions. Other letters follow regarding the proposed sale, to Redington and Green and to others. He expresses frustration at the lack of progress in moving forward with the deal, as to Green on March 6, 1872, “The unaccountable silence of your company and yourself in regard to the Redington property seems to me very strange and unjust…” On March 11 he writes to Booth, “Green’s friends failed to take the Redington Mine and lost a good opportunity to make some money…” Some of the letters are concerned with other matters of business – Scott had his fingers in many pies – but the main concern is for the Redington Mine. The last several letters are from Baltimore, and are of a personal nature – apparently Scott took a well-deserved vacation. A highly important correspondence by a major figure in California industry, giving insight into the core economics of quicksilver mining, important to the gold-driven economy of California for its use in the smelting of the yellow metal.

Lot Amendments

One leaf detached, a few at the beginning with tears along the gutter margin, still in near fine condition.

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