Presentations will take place via the video conferencing app ZOOM. Please register in advance in order to access the program.
Western merchants have always been attracted to the products of China, and in pursuit of profits have made every effort to obtain them. Exotic luxuries such as silks, porcelains, lacquerwares, and ivory carvings were eagerly purchased, but tea, above all other commodities, made trade with China imperative. This lecture will feature many examples of those desired objects brought back from China to the New England market: porcelain punch bowls, painted fans, patterned silks, gilded lacquer ware, and ivory chess sets. Although considered exotic to American eyes, many of these objects were specifically designed to appeal to Western tastes.
Most of the research on the American China trade has focused almost exclusively on the urban, coastal cities of Boston, Salem, Providence, New York and Philadelphia. But this economic opportunity also impacted rural towns and more inland outposts —like the Connecticut River Valley. Not only did Valley inhabitants own and consume China trade goods, they also supplied outbound cargo (e.g. ginseng) to vessels venturing to China. In addition people from our area set sail for China as captains, first mates, sailors, and travelers — often returning with wealth and souvenirs for loved ones in their home “ports” of Hartford and Wethersfield, Connecticut, as well as Northampton, Massachusetts.
Presented by Amanda Lange, Curatorial Department Director and Curator of Historic Interiors, Historic Deerfield.
Image: Punch Bowl, China, c. 1770. Hard-paste porcelain with overglaze enamel colors. Hall and Kate Peterson Fund for Minor Antiques, 88.106. Historic Deerfield.
This program is supported by a grant from the Bridge Street Fund, a special initiative of Mass Humanities.