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Balch & Smith Records, 1797-1849

Identifier: MSS 220

Scope and Content Note

The Balch & Smith Records document the business transactions and transitions of a Salem, Massachusetts, clock and watch business. The account books record Benjamin Balch's sole enterprise, his partnership with Jesse Smith, and Smith's business after the partnership ended. The collection is arranged in three series: Benjamin Balch Records, Balch & Smith Records, and Jesse Smith Records.

Comprised mainly of repair accounts, the entries record the name of the watchmaker along with the owner and type of repair. Of special note are the daily profit and sales records; notations about Smith's apprenticeship and the location of Smith's shop; and the accounts of new watches purchased and sold.


  • Creation: 1797-1849


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical Sketch

Benjamin Balch (1774-1860), a Salem and Boston clock and watchmaker, was the son of William and Rebecca (Bailey) Balch. Born in Bradford, Massachusetts, Balch served his apprenticeship in Newbury with his uncle, Daniel Balch. He moved to Salem in 1796, where he established a prosperous business on Essex Street. During the course of his career, Balch had partnerships with Jesse Smith (Balch & Smith) and his son, James (B. Balch & Son).

Jesse Smith (1789-1866), a native of Ipswich, was the son of Aaron and Lucy (Baker) Smith. Smith began his apprenticeship with Benjamin Balch on December 5, 1803. Ten years later they formed a partnership under the name Balch & Smith. In 1832, the association dissolved and Jesse moved his business farther down the street to 262 Essex Street. His son, Jesse Rogers Smith, assisted him in his shop.


1 linear foot (2 boxes; 1 volume)

Language of Materials



The Balch & Smith Records document the business transactions and transitions of a Salem, Massachusetts, clock and watch business.

Series List

SERIES I. Benjamin Balch Records

SERIES II. Balch & Smith Records

SERIES III. Jesse Smith Records

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks


This collection is an integration and reorganization of 14 volumes. The account books of Benjamin Balch and Balch & Smith were a gift of Daniel I. Smith. Jesse Smith's account books are from an unknown source.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Prudence K. Backman, January 1987. Updated by Anne E. (Holmer) Deschaine, July 2011, June 2014.

Processed by: Prudence K. Backman; Updated by: Anne E. (Holmer) Deschaine; machine-readable finding aid created by: Rajkumar Natarajan.
Language of description
Script of description
Processing and rehousing of this collection were funded by a grant from Essex Institute corporate member Daniel Low & Co.

Repository Details

Part of the Phillips Library Repository

Peabody Essex Museum
306 Newburyport Turnpike
Rowley MA 01969 USA