On This Day: 22 August 1706

On this day in 1706, Captain Thomas Wybergh listed the customs duties he had paid on the goods purchase during his voyage on the Rising Sun. While it is impossible to have a complete understanding of the document which has no column headings, it is from such documents that we gain an insight into the goods traded.

They sold 142 bags of cowries. Cowrie shell were plentiful in Africa and used as a form of currency in China. It was common for ships to trade in cowrie shells as a side-line during a voyage. Duty was also paid on 164 gallons of arrack, a spirit made from the fermented sap of coconut flowers, sugarcane, grain, rice or fruit. There is unlikely to have been a market back at home for arrack but it is unclear whether this arrack was for on board consumption or local trade.

The remaining goods, were likely to be destined for the home market: tea, fans, neck cloths, lecke ware (lacquer ware), China ware (porcelain) and one calico counterpane demonstrating the range of luxury items in demand at the time. The range of goods a ship’s supercargo (the person on board responsible for the trade) had to be an expert in is quite astounding.

The one item that has me stumped is the 78 Paper Rins. They are grouped together with the 1260 fans but I cannot work out what they were. Any suggestions?

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