Skip to main content

Eugene Mayer Papers

Eugene Mayer Papers

1 of 2
Open Finding Aid
small (250x250 max)
medium (500x500 max)
Extra Large
large ( > 500x500)
Full Resolution



Processing and conservation of this collection were funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Mayer, Eugene
Title:Eugene Mayer Papers
Quantity:2 linear feet (4 boxes)
Abstract:The Eugene Mayer papers document the activities of Eugene Mayer, a merchant agent of Bavarian extraction, from 1818 to 1828.
Collection Number:MSS 187

Series List

SERIES I. Business Papers
SERIES II. Personal Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Eugene Mayer papers document the activities of Eugene Mayer, a merchant agent of Bavarian extraction, from 1818 to 1828. They contain correspondence, legal, and financial papers. The collection is organized into two series.

Series I. Business Papers contains correspondence, legal, and financial papers which provide an overall view of J. Webb & Company's shipping business and Mayer's activities as an overseas merchant agent. Also described is the development of conflicts between John Webb and his American-based partner, Adrian Rancher, and the background and proceedings of a slander case brought against Charles Notari, a Salem resident and former company employee.

The correspondence consists of letterbooks, correspondence from J. Webb & Company, and letters from international merchants. The letterbooks contain Mayer's letters to J. Webb & Company, merchant correspondence, and copies of Notari's slanderous letters. Also included is 1825 correspondence regarding suspicions of Mayer's possible embezzlement of funds from a former employer. Occasional shipping accounts may be found throughout the letterbooks, most notably for the brig Orbit and the brig Malay. The John Webb & Company correspondence contains letters from the company's main office in Leghorn, from Frederick Barker, head of the firm's Genoese branch, and occasional business notes from Edward Mayer, Eugene's brother and a firm partner. The correspondence covers a wide variety of business activities and issues, including: letters describing market conditions, instructions for Mayer, letters of introduction, descriptions of Lewis Giunti & Company (a firm subsidiary near Florence which manufactured straw hats), and an enumeration of the charges and legal case against Charles Notari. Also of interest are a number of admonitory letters from John Webb regarding Mayer's conduct as the firm's American agent. The merchant correspondence contains letters from firms in Prato, Genoa, Livorno, Le Havre, Mexico, Halifax, Philadelphia, Providence, Boston, Baltimore, Belfast (Me.), and Salem.

The Webb and Rancher partnership papers illuminate the conflicts which developed between John Webb and his partner, Adrian Rancher. Included are the 1818 partnership agreement between Webb and Rancher (et. al.), correspondence from Rancher, and letters regarding the Webb-Rancher liaison (which included Rancher's rescue from European prisons in the 1810s and 1820s).

The bulk of the legal papers were generated by the Charles Notari slander case. The financial papers include prices current of J. Webb Company and other Italian firms, and Mayer's agent and household accounts.

Series II. Personal Papers contains correspondence and miscellaneous papers. The correspondence includes letters in English, French, Italian, and German from friends, Mayer's parents Benoit Jacques and Caroline Mayer, and his brothers Ricco and Edward. The family letters convey personal news, such as the death of B. J. Mayer in 1827, and discuss Eugene's professional conduct in the Notari slander case and his handling of his business contacts in America. Also included is correspondence regarding a new type of telescope and an Italian dance instructor who conducted classes in Boston, The miscellaneous papers include an 1821 essay on family life (in French), calling and trade cards, poetry, a printed sermon (undated), and notes on the economy of the Netherlands.

Biographical Sketch

Eugene Mayer was born in Bavaria, Germany. He was a merchant agent and, from 1825 to 1828, worked for John Webb & Company, a banking and commission merchant firm based in Leghorn (Livorno) and Genoa, Italy. As their European and American merchant agent, Mayer conducted the firm's business in London, Liverpool, and in New England cities such as Boston and Salem, Massachusetts.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Mayer, Benoit Jacques, -1827
Mayer, Caroline
Mayer, Edward, active 1826-1827
Mayer, Ricco
Notari, Charles
Rancher, Adrian
John Webb & Co.
John Webb & Co.
Lewis Giunti & Co.
Malay (Brig)
Orbit (Brig)
Dance teachers
Domestic relations
Shipping--France--Le Havre
Trials (Slander)
Netherlands--Economic conditions
Salem (Mass.)


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Eugene Mayer Papers, MSS 187, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material is from an unknown source. Integrated into the papers was a letterbook (now in B1 F3) removed from the Phillips Family Papers.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Sylvia B. Kennick, July 1985. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, February 2016.

Related Material

you wish to report:

Select the collections to add or remove from your search