We have ſaid ſomething of moſt of the Tradeſmen employed by the Architect, except the Timber-Merchant; who is either employed by or furniſhes Materials to the Carpenter, and other Workmen under him. The Timber-Merchant properly, is the Importer of Timber from abroad in his own Bottoms: He is furniſhed with Deal from Norway, either in Logs or Planks; with Oak and Wainſcoat from Sweden; and ſome from the Counties in England; with Mahogany from Jamaica; with Wallnut-Tree from Spain. Theſe he ſells to the Carpenter, Joiner, and Cabinet-Maker at conſiderable Profit. It requires no very inconſiderable Stock to ſet up a Timber-Merchant; he muſt always have a large Stock by him in his Yards, and give conſiderable Credit to the Maſter-Builders.
A Merchant in this Way ought not only to be a Judge of Timber, but muſt know the Commodities that are to be ſent from hence to thoſe Countries from whence he has his Timber; though the balance of Trade with moſt of thoſe Places is againſt us, and we are obliged to remit the Difference between Value of the Goods they ſend us and thoſe we take from them in Bills of Exchange.
The Swedes and Norweigians ſcarce take any thing from us but ready Money; we ſend them ſome ſmall Quantities of Woollen Manufacture, Mancheſter Goods, Soap, Tobacco, and Sugar; we formerly uſed to ſerve them with East-India Goods; but as they have now Companies and Colonies of their own, their Demand from us us but ſmall.
A Youth deſigned for this Trade does not require an over-and-above fertile Genius; Sagacity will ſerve inſtead of Wit, and his Knowledge may be confined to Figures and Merchants-Accounts; A good Hand in Writing in neceſſary to all who are to be admitted into the Merchant’s Counting-Houſe: But as I am to treat of Merchants in a particular Chapter, I ſhall ſay no more here of this Species of them.
Every Man who keeps a Timber-Yard is not a Timber-Merchant, nor the Perſon I have been deſcribing; moſt of the Timber-Yards, eſpecially at the Court End of the Town, are kept by Carpenters or Maſter-Builders. Theſe buy their Timber from the Importer, and retail it to the Trade; and in this Reſpect have not more Title to the Name of Timber-Merchant than the Vintner to that of a Wine-Merchant, except we were to follow the Cuſtom of France, who ſtyle a Cobler a Merchant of Old Shoes.
R. Campbell, Esq.
The London Tradesman – 1747