The firm of William Dale & Sons of Sandle Bridge near Alderley Edge, Cheshire, was first recorded in 1737. The company, whose motto was 'workmanship before price', was one of the best-known agricultural engineers in the region, manufacturing and repairing a wide range of agricultural implements, machinery, tools and ironmongery. The firm seems to have operated a simple accounting system; at least, no double-entry accounting records have survived. There are two series of sales day books, single-entry prime accounts recording sales to scores of different customers. The volumes provide a wealth of information on the workings of the company and on the wider agricultural and industrial economy of the area throughout the long nineteenth century.
At some date in the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, the two series of accounts were amalgamated into a single sequence, the volumes being numbered consecutively on the spine (there being no item 28). However, the volumes in DP/1/2 are physically smaller and clearly form a separate chronological sequence, although they have a similar format and record similar information to DP/1/1.