1838 Canton China Trade Letter - A.a.low To George B. Archer
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1838 Canton China Trade Letter - A.a.low To George B. Archer:
These rareearlyChina Tradeletter was written by Abiel Abbot Low in Canton to George B. Acher in New York. The letter dated "Canton, March 30th 1838". In this letter Low tells Archer about his sucsess in procuring teas and other goods for export. He writes that he is expecting many America ships and that he has already sent goods aboard the American ship "Liberty". The four page letter measures approx. 8 x 10 inches. With the exception of some ink bleeding through the paper the letter is in very good condition! As with all of my items 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.