The limitations of a barter economy to Head's business are evident in his account book.7
Cash transactions are few, particular in the first years. Commodities, promises to pay, and financial instruments took their place. Notes of hand were frequently exchanged between Head and his customers, and transferred to third parties.8
Years often passed before an account was settled, perhaps because one party insisted on cash. Some accounts remained unpaid or not fully paid.
Some of the time intervening dates of order and payment may have been necessary for the production of the object. Thus, when a single cash payment of eighteen shillings was recorded from James Logan (1674-1751), on 5/15/24, for "a Walnut Table," first ordered on 10/30/23, it may have taken Head most of that time to make the table.9 However, no such explanation could apply to the transactions of Andrew Gramer. He was debited £0-15-0, on 4/23/29, "To - 6 yards of Druget;" and £1-17-6, a week later, on 4/28/29, "To 15 yards of drugit dd [delivered] to his dafter mary [daughter Mary for which] he promises pay[ment]." But full payment didn't come until almost a year later, on 3/15/30.10
In one instance, Head had to wait nearly nine years for full payment, his client having died in the interim. Artha [Arthur] Jones, with whom Head had long done business on a fairly prompt basis, ordered a "chest of drawers," at £3-10-0, and "a clockcase and a Table," at £5-15-0, on 9/9/38. No credits having appeared for more than three years, Head accepted a "note of hand" from Jones, on 12/9/41, but recorded in that entry, which was apparently supplemented later: "By a note of hand payable 9 of 12 mo 1742/3 with Lawfull Interest} £5-15-0/But he did not Live to pay The note of/John Evens [Evans] seteld the [w]hole account page ye 74." While still alive, Jones ordered lime on three occasions in 1742 [1-5-0, 6/18/42; £1-10-0, 6/25/42; and £1-10-0, 8/18/42]. Part payment of £3-10-0, was credited on 10/15/42, but the note remained unpaid. Jones may have been unable to pay because of ill health, as a charge of £2-0-0 was entered in the name of his widow Elizabeth, "To her husbons Cofin," on 6/27/43. Not until 3/16/47, was Head able to close out the account with £8-10-0, "By Cash Rec:'d of John Evens one of his Executors."11 Delays in payment were the rule rather then the exception.
Even when he did no other business with a customer, Head sometimes gave them a year to pay. But, again, this may have been less a question of trust and currency shortage, than of Head's inability to deliver the furniture sooner. The £8-0-0 debited Thomas Moon, on 5/30/26, "To a Chest of drawers and a Table," was not credited, "By Cash Re[ceive]d by His wife," until 4/16/27.12
From other, perhaps less credit-worthy, individuals Head required half payment down at time of order. On 6/24/28, Sary [Sarah] Core was debited £3-0-0, "To a Chest of Drawers," and credited half that amount, £1-10-0, "By Cash." Apparently strapped for cash, she paid off some of it in a £0-3-0 credit, "By - 8 pound of Chees." The remaining £1-7-0 was paid off, over a year later, on 10/24/29, "By Cash In full by her dafter Sary [daughter Sarah]."13
Head may have had good reason to require half down from another customer, martha [Martha] Bates. On 2/12/40, she was debited £3-10-0, "To a Chest of drawers," and credited cash of £1-15-0. Head waited over a year for another £1-0-0 in cash, on 4/12/41; and nearly another for £0-15-0, on 2/21/42. His records do not record whether he was ever paid the remaining 10 shillings.14
It was commonplace in Head's book for third parties, often relatives or business associates, to pay for furniture delivered to others. Thus Philip Johns was debited £7-5-0, on 10/1/24, "To a mapel Chest of Drawers sold To his Wife: dd [delivered] to her dafter [daughter]."15 Usually the entire payment was paid by one party for another. In one instance, though, the accounts of two individuals were charged for portions of the price of a piece of furniture delivered to one of them. On 7/27/25, Matthias Lucan was debited £2-10-0, "To part of a Chest of drawers;" and Peter Tison the rest, "To part of a Chest of Drawers dd [delivered] to Mathias Lucan} £3-0-0."16
As Head usually had in stock or could produce or readily acquire goods that were in demand, such as furniture, lime, soap and candles, it was usually he or his suppliers who had to wait for payment. But, occasionally, the barter economy conferred the advantage on him. Over five years passed from 2/16/40, when Thomas Penenton [Pennington?] was credited £1-10-0, "By - 30 Bushels of Lime," until Head settled that amount, on 3/3/45, "To a Beaver hatt dd to his son James."17
Some laborers, such as plasterers William Vallecot and Thomas Carrall [Carroll], appeared to have been paid on a "pay as you go" basis. This may have been because they bartered their own labor, rather than goods supplied from elsewhere on credit, and simply couldn't afford to wait for payment.18 Carroll appears later to have had a more pressing need for money. He placed an ad that "[w]hereas Catherine, the wife of Thomas Carroll, of Philadelphia, Plaisterer, hath eloped from her said husband, and run him a good deal in debt, to his great detriment, this is to desire all persons not to trust her on his account; for he will pay no debts of her contracting from the date hereof."19