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Ledger Book

Campbell, John
Place Made:
Nashville Tennessee United States of America
ink –paper
Accession Number:
John Campbell (1803-1875) was born in Scotland and emigrated to the United States as a boy or young man. He began an apprenticeship in 1820 under silversmith John Selph (d.1838) in Fayetteville, North Carolina. By 1827 the men were working together as the firm Selph & Campbell but they dissolved their partnership in 1829. Campbell worked in partnership with Warren Prior (1811-1909) from 1834 until he announced his intent to move to Nashville, Tennessee in 1836. Once he arrived in Nashville, Campbell formed a one-year partnership with John Peabody (1792-1850).

In 1836, Campbell was part of a group of nine craftsmen that formed the “Association of the Watch-Makers, Silversmiths & Jewelers of Nashville.” The association established price guidelines for the manufacture and repair of clocks, watches, silver, and jewelery. These guidelines in Campbell’s ledger book. The ledger book also records Campbell’s work performed during this period. An invaluable resource for understanding the nature of the silversmithing business in the trans-Appalachian West, the ledger book was published as an appendix to Dr. Benjamin H. Caldwell, Jr’s book “Tennessee Silversmiths.”

Working independently from 1837 until 1849, Campbell grew his business and advertised his services as a clock and watchmaker and repairer, jeweler, and gold and silversmith. By the end of the 1840s he again began working in partnership, first as Campbell & Stevens (the first name of Stevens is unknown) and then from 1853 to 1855 with the New York-born George Washington Donigan (1824-1864). The 1857 Nashville city directory listed Campbell’s residence but no occupation. The year before he had purchased 206 acres and a house in Franklin, Tennessee, located twenty miles south of Nashville.

Credit Line:
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Benjamin H. Caldwell Jr. in honor of Thomas A. Gray