Notes on Hampton Mansion
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Appendix A

The nature of the agreement or agreements for carpentry between Captain Ridgely and his principal mechanics is fairly evident. Following the tradition of English building, there were three methods followed in this country: "by Great" (what we call today "lump sum"), "by the Day" ("cost plus") and by measure. [1] The latter was common in 18th-century America and was evidently in use on the Ridgely properties. For example In December of 1782 Carpenter William Brown submitted a bill for work on C. R. Ridgely's house which "If measured Right" came to £ 32...2...0. [2] Document 6 (p.37) refers to "the Common Old Prices before the war." Carpenters' schedules of prices were characteristically kept secret (at least in Philadelphia) but in the case of Hampton no evidence has been found that an outside measurer was brought in to evaluate the work. [3]

The carpenters of Baltimore were formally organized, as they were in other American cities and England, and one of their most important functions as a group was the establishment of a standard schedule for pricing construction work. As early as 1773 "Sundry Carpenters at Maryland" had applied to Robert Smith and Thomas Nevell of the Carpenters' Company of the City and County of Philadelphia for a copy of their "Ruels for Measureing." [4] Whether or not they got a copy of this very secret document does not appear.

However, the Baltimore group was successful in formally organizing by May 1, 1790, [5] and the following year they published their Constitution. William Richardson and Michael Shannon, who had worked at Hampton, were among the subscribers. The following describes their policy about prices:

It shall be the Duty of a Master-Carpenter so admitted, to receive any Applications that may be made to him by Employers, to undertake all Buildings, or Jobbs of Work, agreeably to the Rules stipulated in this Constitution, and the Prices established in the general Bill of Rates for this Society...

These prices, as established and agreed upon by a Special-Committee, duly appointed for that Purpose, consisting of the most experienced and oldest Artists belonging to the Society, are as low generally, and, in some Particulars, lower than what has been customary these Twenty Years and upwards, . . . any Person who undertakes to execute or accomplish any Pieces of Workmanship at lower Rates than these established by said Committee, cannot, with any Shadow of Probability, [6] intend or expect to deal justly either by himself or his Employers;

No copy of the price book, which was undoubtedly in manuscript only, has been noted.

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Last Updated: 07-Jul-2008