1833 Canton China Trade Letters & Documents - A.a.low & Augustine Heard For Sale
These extremely rareearlyChina Trade documentsconsists primarily of invoices and two of the invoices contain short letters signed by both "A.A.Low" and "Augustus Heard". All the rest of the invoices are signed "A.A.Low". Apparently at this time Low was working for Russell and Company and had not started his own firm yet and it was aboutfive years before Augustus Heard had started his own company. There are seven invoices and most of them were folded like "stampless letters" andfive of them have a red ink stamp of the"CUSTOM HOUSE NEW YORK" on the front. The stamp reads "CUSTOM HOUSE NEW YORK CERTIFIED THAT THIS INVOICE WAS PRESENTED TO ME ON ENTRY".Five of the invoices include the names of the American ships that carried the merchandise and the names of all of the ships masters. The American ships include the ship "Alexander" the ship "London", the ship "Horatio", the ship "Cabot" and the ship "Golcaida". The merchandise includes mostly tea and silk and it was all shipped from Canton, China. In addition to the red stamps each one of the five red stamped invoices also contain an embossed "CUSTOM HOUSE" stamp. These invoices are dated 1833, 1834 & 1836 and range in size from 5 1/2" x 8" to 9" x 13". There are some tiny chips on some of the folds but overall these rare early Canton invoices are in Very Good Condition! As with all of myitems I am starting this sale at $9.99 with !
Abiel Abbot Low (February 7, 1811 – January 7, 1893) was an American entrepreneur, businessman, trader and philanthropist who gained most of his fortune from the China trade, importing teas, porcelains, and silk, and building and operating a fleet of reputable clipper ships.
Abiel Abbot Low was one of twelve children (eight sons, four daughters) of a Salem, Massachusetts, drug merchant, Seth Low. Abiel grew up attending public schools, and became a clerk in the house of Joseph Howard & Company, a company engaged in the South American trade, and moved to New York with his family in 1829. There, Seth Low’s pharmaceutical business flourished, importing China
In 1833, Low sailed to Canton, China, and started working as a clerk for the mercantile house of Russell & Company, the largest American firm in China and also the leading American opium trading and smuggling enterprise into China, founded by Samuel Russell, and of which Low’s uncle, William Henry Low, had been head for some years. In 1837, after four years of learning the intricacies of trading in China, Low became a partner in the firm. In 1840, he launched his own business in a joint venture with Wu Bingjian, also known as Howqua, a mentor for young Americans in China, a very important Hong merchant, head of the Canton Cohong and one of the richest men in China. The company, A. A. Low & Brother named for both he and his brother, Josiah Orne Low, rapidly became one New York
Having made his fortune in China working with Russell & Co, the largest US opium smuggling enterprise into China at the time of the Opium Wars, and shortly after the launch of his business, Low returned to New York. There, he set up his New York headquarters on Fletcher Street, in a building shared with his father’s business. In 1849-1850, Low erected the A. A. Low building at 167–171 John Street, now part of the historic South Street Seaport historic area. The firm was situated at its Burling Slip building from 1850 to after the turn of the century.
Low launched his own fleet of clippers, among which were the Houqua, the first streamlined ship, named after his Chinese business partner who had died in 1843, and the Samuel Russell, named after the founder of the mercantile company in which Low had worked as a clerk. Two other of Low’s clippers, the Contest and the Jacob Bell, were subsequently destroyed by Confederate privateers during the Civil War.
Low was known for his business astuteness and shrewdness. He is said to have instructed his captains in China to wait and let competitors purchase the first tea pickings, and to purchase the following tea pickings at a lower price. Because of the speed of his clippers, he still managed to reach New York before his competitors.
Augustine Heard and Company (Augustine Heard & Co.) was a major nineteenth century American trading firm in China whose operations consisted in importing and exporting a large array of goods, including tea and opium.
Augustine Heard & Co. was founded in 1840, in Canton, China by Ipswich, MA businessman, traveller, trader and former Samuel Russell & Co. partner Augustine Heard, and his partners, Joseph Coolidge and John Murray Forbes. Throughout its history, it was run in large part by Heard family members, most notably Heard's four nephews from his brother George Washington Heard: John, Augustine, Albert Farley and George Washington Jr.
In 1841, Augustine Heard, who had previously lived in China but had returned for health reasons to Ipswich, returned to China to head the firm until 1844. There, business flourished, notably because of the use of fast clipper ships and the import of steamships. Tea, one of the main commodities traded, did not provide much profit compared to opium, which enabled the firm's finances to soar, Augustine Heard & Co. becoming the third largest American firm in China in the mid-nineteenth century. The firm also introduced steamships to China, and imported them through its sister firm in the U.S. The firm also became the main trading agent for several large firms, including Liverpool firm John Swire & Sons Limited. in 1861.
In 1844, Heard began travelling extensively, and handed control over the firm to his partners. Among Heard's partners, his four nephews we most active and ably directed the firm. John Heard led the firm until his departure in 1852; Augustine Heard II then took over the leadership of the firm and became the first Westerner permitted to trade in Siam in 1855. When his brother John returned to take the leadership again, the younger Augustine became the firm's representative to Europe. Albert Farley later took over the firm and, finally, George Washington Jr. who remained in China until the firm's collapse.
The firm prospered until the 1870s when, just like its rivals, it encountered financial difficulties, and finally went bankrupt in 1875
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