Yankee India: American Commerical and Cultural Encounters with India in the Age of Sail 1784-1860

Peabody Essex Museum. 9.25 x 11", 288 pp., 119 color illustrations, 63 b/w illustrations, notes, index, cloth, d.j., Salem, 2001. (o.p.; fine). Item #21890
ISBN: 1890206296

In this splendid work, Bean, curator of South Asian and Korean art and culture at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, provides insights into the experiences of New England traders who sailed the world in search of trade just after America won its independence. Initially, this trade consisted of buying goods in one Asian port and selling them at another until there was enough profit to finance a return trip to America. Then in 1833, ice from New England became a major commodity; traders flush with funds could then imitate the British by buying cotton, shipping it to New England to be made into textiles, and selling the manufactured goods in India.

A particularly noteworthy aspect of this narrative of cultural exchange are the extensive extracts from diaries of New Englanders, dating from 1789 to 1854, which describe their encounters with Asia and especially India. Bean also provides a visual dimension, illustrating the text with artifacts from the Peabody Essex Museum, which was founded in 1799 as the East India Marine Society.

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