Among Frank’s things is a document that has been folded and kept by his descendants for probably more than 140 years.  I still don’t know why he kept this piece of paper but, at some point in time, Frank paid $1.00 to attain the rights to use a washing compound recipe for his family and agreed not to share the recipe beyond his family.

The fragile document is a single 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper that is a pre-printed form with filled in blanks.  Below is an image of upper portion of the document.  The bottom portion has the recipe and, while I doubt the unnumbered patent is still in place, I will not share that just yet.

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As I began to wonder about this document I noted some identifiers and did some minimal research on each.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

Family rights were sold to F.A. Garee for $1.00

The document was among the papers belonging to my husband’s maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Bullard nee Garee.  Her grandfather was Francis Albert Garee who was born in 1846 in Ohio and died in 1931 in Noble, Oklahoma.  He lived in Missouri & Kansas prior to moving to Oklahoma sometime before 1900.

These rights were given by R. Wayvell, proprietor in Chicago, Illinois

In looking for this person or business, I discovered the following:

1862 Chicago income tax listing shows R.W. Chappell as a peddler
1870 non-population census Chicago indicates the R.W. Chappell is involved in the washing compound industry
1893 Chicago Tribune has want ads for salesmen for the Wayvell & Co at 18 S. Canal
1895 Chicago City Directory: Wayvell, Chappell & Co (Richard Wayvell & Robert W. Chappell) washing compound, 18 S. Canal
1904 Chicago City Directory: Wayvell, Chappell & Co, washing compound, 36, 53 River

The recipe was for Merrill’s London Washing Compound

Merrill’s London Washing Compound family recipe has some very strong ingredients in it: sal soda, borax, lime, and ammonia. I have not found anything about this recipe after doing a brief search.

There is a two cent U.S. Internal Revenue stamp on it that has been canceled with the initials J.W. and the numbers 6/15.

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The Revenue Act of 1862 was established in order to help finance the Civil War effort.  Stamps were used to show that federal taxes were paid on a document, photographs, etc.  Orange colored stamps that say “U.S.INTER.REV.” at the top and bottom are designated Scott number R15, which were the first issue used from 1864-1871.1, 3 The Scott R15 is very common and therefore not worth but about 35 cents today.   Users of the stamps were required to cancel the stamp with the date of usage and initials of the taxpayer applying the stamp.

So the R.W. written on the stamp was probably Richard Wayvell.  The dates that the Wayvell & Chappell Co are listed in the Chicago area match the time frame of the R15 stamp.  The handwritten numbers on the stamp (6/15) must represent a month and day rather than a month and year.

Frank’s son, granddaughter, great granddaughter, and now great, great grandson have held on to this document.  Today, we hold on to it not knowing it’s original significance to Frank but for it’s familial importance.


  1. All Experts Civil War era Revenue Stamps
  2. Giroux, Gary. “Revenue Stamps: Financing the Civil War.” American Philatelist July 2002: 612-624. (part 1 part 2)
  3. Boston Philatelic Society. An historical reference list of the revenue stamps of the United Stamps: including the private die proprietary stamps. Salem: Press of Newcomb & Gauss, 1899.