Book Review-‘The European Canton Trade 1723: Competition and cooperation’ ed. by M. Kessler, K. Lee and D. Menning
This collection of source material on European trade in Canton in 1723 originated as a teaching project at the Eberhard Karls Universität in Tübingen. It was conceived as a way of encouraging students to read and engage with primary sources, and, more ambitiously, it is intended ‘to contribute to a larger scholarship on the early China trade’ (acknowledgement).
The book consists of an introduction and four selections of source material: documents originating from the court of directors of the East India Company in London, the journal of the outward voyage of the Hartford (the return voyage is available on the publishers’ online site for free), selections from the diary and consultation book of the company’s council in Canton and, finally, in order to justify the presence of ‘European’ in the book’s title, a collection of ‘letters’ in French from a manuscript now in the Bayerische Staatsbibliotek in Munich. These were compiled from other sources and include an account of an Ostend Company voyage to Canton in 1723 and a description of China and were written sometime after 1735, interestingly, at a time when both Austria and Prussia were contemplating the East India trade…