World Trade from the William Reese Company
World Trade from the William Reese Co.
By Michael Stillman
The latest catalogue from the William Reese Company does not offer their typical collection of Americana. This one is focused on the world. More specifically, it is centered on trade and commerce. Nations have been trading with one another for as far back as history records, but world trade increased exponentially in the age of discovery. Europeans visited foreign lands and set up trade relations. Then, they did even better. They took over many of those lands, turning them into colonies, so they could control and dominate their trade. It was an effective strategy, though its effect on the locals who were colonized, or even turned into slaves, was not so pleasant. Here are some of the items offered in Reese's 278th catalogue, World Trade: The First Age of Globalization.
Although India would in time become a British colony, the first European outposts on the subcontinent were those of the Portuguese. There had been overland trade with India in the 15th century, but the Turks were making that increasingly difficult when Portugal sent Vasco da Gama out to find a sea route in 1497. It was the first time Europeans went beyond the African coast, and da Gama succeeded in his mission. Through the first half of the 16th century, the Portuguese set up trading missions all along India's west coast, with da Gama succeeding in enforcing Portuguese interests, though with much brutality. There are only a handful of accounts of the Portuguese role in India in the period of 1510-1540. This is one of them: Commentarii Rerum Gestarium in India Citra Gangem a Lusitanus Anno 1538... by Damiao de Goes, published in 1539. This work describes the Portuguese activity and, in particular, their battles with the Turks for influence in the region. Item 77. Priced at $16,500.
While the Portuguese were moving east, the Spanish were moving west. The Pope had divided the New World longitudinally, giving Portugal Brazil, and Spain everything else in the Americas. That was a good deal for Spain, but in time, England, having broken with the Vatican, was in no mood to honor boundaries assigned by a Pope they did not recognize. As British power grew, the Spanish were forced to make concessions. Item 193 is The Articles of Peace...in a Treaty at Madrid. This is the first English language publication in 1630 of the Treaty of Madrid, whereby Spain acknowledged England's right to occupy and trade with places in the Americas not already colonized by Spain. Item 193. $1,750.
British authority in the Americas would have its time limits too. Item 199 is a copy of the Treaties of Amity and Commerce, and of Alliance Eventual and Defensive, Between His Most Christian Majesty and the Thirteen United States of America. "His Most Christian Majesty" was King Louis XVI of France, eventually beheaded by his people, but that's a story for another day. This is the first printing of a treaty between the United States, still considered but rebellious possessions by the British, and a foreign power. The year was 1778, and the French were all too willing to stir up any mischief they could with their longtime rivals and enemies. While the French won few of their battles on the ground, this would prove to be an enormous success. With the aid of French naval power, the American colonists would be able to overthrow their masters and gain independence from England. $35,000.
World Trade from the William Reese Company
America's first foreign treaty.
Here is a common way to raise funds, but not a typical means of funding your preachers. Item 23 is Richard Carter's An Easie Method to Raise this Present Year, 1715, 5000l. per Ann. Forever...without Taxing either Persons or Trade... Published in 1715, Carter hoped to establish a lottery. What is unusual is that the proceeds were to be used to fund ministers, people who usually discourage gambling. $1,500.
Next is a case where perfectly reasonable logic fails to operate in the real world. Item 12 is William Bell's A Dissertation on the Following Subject: What Causes Principally Contribute to Render a Nation Populous? Published in 1756, Bell concludes that families in poor countries will reproduce at lower rates. "Very few of those, who find it a matter of the greatest difficulty to subsist themselves, will lay themselves under the additional obligation of providing for others." As we know, logical as this may be, it is in poor nations where reproduction rates are highest, while families in wealthy nations have fewer and fewer children. $1,250.
Here's a bit of history you know nothing about. It is the Fishmonger-Smackman Controversy of 1715. According to the Urban Dictionary, a "smackman" is someone who, in playing a particular online video game, after killing someone, smacks their body with a gun while they are lying on the ground. However, they didn't have video games in 1715, so I'm guessing this "smackman" is an archaic term referring to someone who worked on a ship. This is all kind of vague because I can't find anything about this controversy even with the full aid and assistance of Google. Apparently there was a bill before Parliament that year regulating fishing, and there was a controversy over whether to ban the sale of lobsters caught by foreigners. So, item 63 is Farther Reasons Humbly Offer'd for the Passing of the Fish Bill. Reese informs us that this broadside represents the point of view of the "pro-free-trade-lobster fishmonger lobby." And you thought we had lobbyists representing too many causes today. Anyway, who could be against free trade lobsters? $850.
The William Reese Company may be reached at 203-789-8081 or email@example.com. Their website is www.reeseco.com.