Availability of Sandpaper in Colonial America

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The earliest advertisement, that I have located so far, offering sandpaper for sale in Colonial America is this one:

December 11, 1755
The Pennsylvania Gazette

Lately imported from London, and to be sold cheap by JOHN
BAYLY, At the Tea pot, the lower end of Front street, near the Drawbridge, NEAT silver watches with enamelled and silver faces, stone girdle buckles, chrystal stone sleeve buttons, waistcoat ditto, silver thimbles with steel tops, round and square shoe and knee buckles, chapes and tongues, coral beads, money scales and weights in pear tree boxes, and shagreen cases, setts of pennyweights and grains without scales, watch strings and best brass keys, cornelian stone seals set in silver, glass ditto, Pinchbeck ditto gilt, silver pendants, magnifying glasses, fine pierced Pinchbeck shoe and knee buckles in setts, sundry sorts of rough, bastard and smooth files, spring dividers, carpenters compasses, clock and watch plyars, cutting nippers, hand shears, fine round drawing plates, fine and coarse binding wire, hand vizes, spur rowels, brass blow pipes, borax, sandiver, salt petre, allom, rotten stone, pumice stone and sand paper, best blue melting pots, and crucibles, a pair of best fine steel assay ballance fixed with silver pans and skirts, and skirts in a neat mahogany square glass lanthorn, with setts of gold and silver assay weights in a draw box compleat. Also all sorts of gold and silver work made and sold as usual, and ready money given for old gold and silver.

Sandpaper was also advertised in the Boston Gazette around 1762-5.

Abrasive paper (both sand and glass) was apparently know by the mid-eighteenth century but rarely used. The problem seems to have been the expense. Sandpaper is mentioned in the context of military armorers' supplies but hardly ever in general store or gunsmith inventories.

The oldest surviving example of sandpaper I have heard of is an unused bundle in James Watt’s shop in England and he died in 1819. I’ve not seen it myself but was told by Lynton McKenzie that it looks like modern sandpaper except the sheets have the irregular edges characteristic of hand laid paper.

There are lots of accounts of lose abrasives on pads, sticks, or brushes. Emery powder, rotten stone (tripoli) and even brick dust were used. Some powdered abrasives were separated by different grits by stirring them in water then drawing off the water in layers by opening taps placed at different heights on the barrel. The finer grit would be near the top.

Shark skins were also used and the cabinet shop at Colonial Williamsburg has done some experimenting with them. As I recall, they found that the small sharks caught today in the Chesapeake Bay have skin that is too smooth to have much abrasive power.

Certain types of marsh grasses and rushes can also be used for polishing.

There was also a lot more scraping and burnishing on both wood and metal.