The Dual Commerce Association, Boston, 1859

One of the things that is becoming clearer from continuing research into the practical history of mutualism is that there were lots of small experiments in, and local enthusiasts for, equitable commerce and mutual currency. I’ve already documented one Practical application of the cost principle in Massachusetts, 1863. If appears that this was preceded in Boston by an 1859 project, The Dual Commerce Association. The OCLC catalog lists one 16-page pamphlet:

Dual Commerce Association. The Dual Commerce Association: its Experience, Results, Plans & Prospectus : First Report. Boston, Mass.: Dual Commerce Association, 1859.

and The Circular includes the following short notice:

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“Dual Commerce Association,” The Circular, 8, 4 (February 17, 1859), 4.

Dual Commerce Association—In Boston a new movement in trade, under the above title, has been in operation a few months, and of its character and results, Life Illustrated thus speaks:

“It proposes to purchase the necessaries and the luxuries of life, and distribute them to users and consumers at the exact cost of doing the business. In Boston, a number of ‘stations’ are provided where milk, butter, four, potatoes, soap, sugar and all other articles commonly used in families are received and distributed, the store or station keepers having fixed salaries so as to do away with all notions of profit or speculation.

“A barrel of flour, for example, is received and sold in parcels of one, five, or ten pounds, at the same rate per pound that would be charged on whole barrel if taken at once. The cost of receiving and delivering a barrel of four is but fifty cents, whereas to ordinary retail grocers the consumers pay two, or three, or four times that sum. In this way, the poor, without capital, can purchase as economically as the rich; and all make a saving of at least twenty per cent.—no small item for a mechanic or laboring man.

Though the principle of Dual Commerce ha been in practical operation but a few months the results have been most gratifying. The system, if it can be made to work well in one place—and all that seems to be waited are men of heart and capital—may be extended to all places. And it can be applied to manufactures, and even to agriculture, as well as to commerce.”

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Life Illustrated was a Fowler and Wells periodical (OCLC: 16837890), published from 1854 to 1861, at which point it was merged with the Phrenological Journal and Science of Health.) Crispin Sartwell and I are in the process of comparing notes and bibliographies, and I’m still transcribing material from The Boston Investigator. The pieces come together slowly but surely.

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.