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1734 - List of goods ordered at Canton

This extract lists the various teas and silk textiles that were ordered in 1734 at Canton for the ships Wyndham and Compton. Many of these commodities had obscure names: types of tea included Bing, Congoe and Queen; silk products included taffatyns, gorgoroons, and goosees.

By the early 18th century the East India Company was trading regularly with the Chinese from Canton, buying mainly tea, silk textiles and inexpensive porcelain, in exchange for silver. Over the next 100 years tea became a very popular drink in England, and there was a fear that too much silver was leaving the country to pay for it. To stop this happening, the company became involved in a triangular trade by smuggling opium (a drug) from India into China. They were paid in silver for opium and used this to buy tea. This was a very dangerous thing to do because opium was banned in China.

About East India Office Trading Documents

The East India Company and its trading activities provide a fascinating backdrop for many accounts of shipwrecks and smuggling. This selection of documents from the British Library's India Office gives a flavour of the great range of ephemeral texts involved in the many aspects of international trade. In particular we can see how goods from India and China became an integral part of British culture, and sense the stranglehold on commerce that the monopolistic East India Company strove to maintain.


Taken from: India Office Trading Documents
Date: 1734
Copyright: By permission of the British Library
Shelfmark: BL OIOC: G/12/36,f.14