n.d. [ca.1817]. Autograph manuscript recipe,  p., 4to. (10 x 8 in.), approx. 78 words, signed by Weems, and including a short note as to his source for the recipe. Some minor spotting, fold lines, shallow closed tears along the edges, the ink burning through the paper in a couple of spots.
The recipe, recorded in a bold hand, reads: "Take two pounds muscovado sugar, Three large lemons, Four quarts warm water, & Yeast sufficient to ferment the whole to the vinous or wine stage; according to the Judgment of Friend Funk which in this as in many other useful things is I hope superior to that of his sincere friend M.L. Weems." Weems says that a Mr. Law of the Federal City gave him this recipe for "making a most delightful wine - at 10 Cents the bottle." Item #60211
"Parson" Mason Locke Weems (1759-1825), the book-peddling parson, is perhaps best remembered as author of the biography of George Washington which included the apocryphal cherry tree story. He also authored works on the damaging affects of drunkeness, but was not averse to a glass of wine himself, on occasion.
This manuscript recipe was discovered in a commonplace book kept by John Funk, of Strasburg, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The "Mr. Law of the Federal City," is most likely Thomas Law (1756-1834), who married Elizabeth Parke Custis, George Washington's step-granddaughter. He was a primary backer of a sugar factory built in Washington, D.C. in the late 1790's. Dating of the manuscript is aided by noting that the paper used by Weems to record the recipe carries the watermark "M" and was produced at the paper mill belonging to Alexander and William Mode in Chester County, Pa. According to Gravell & Miller's "A catalogue of American Watermarks 1690-1835, p. 193: "On July 3, 1817, the firm ordered a mound watermarked 'M'." The sheet is affixed with sealing wax at two upper corners to a second partial sheet, on which are laid down two clipped printed articles, one concerning an "abstract of returns made to the Auditor General by certain banks... 4th of November, 1816," [a fragment of a Pennsylvania government document concerning banks], the other a printed recipe for making bread from potatoes, pearl ash, and rye meal or flour.
By 1929, when Emily E. Skeel produced her "Mason Locke Weems: a Bibliography," much of Weems' manuscript material had been absorbed by institutions and research collections. Since 1957, only two pieces of manuscript written by him have appeared at auction. Both were manuscript letters, one having sold twice, and nothing else since 1978.