Rio de Janeiro: 20 September 1816. Quarto (ca. 25,5x19,5 cm). 3 pp. Brown ink on watermarked laid paper, addressed and sealed on the 4th page. With a period ink inscription in another hand on the 1st page. Small hole on the 3rd page after opening, not affecting the text, otherwise a very good letter.
An interesting letter from a young French merchant in Rio de Janeiro addressed to his father who is also his business partner. In the beginning he outlines the most efficient way of sending correspondence to Rio de Janeiro – via a British packet boat which “leaves on the first day of each month from Falmouth and reaches us in about fifty days.” Then the author complains that the “trade is still very bad here. I would have sold all the cheap things if we haven’t badly done the invoice”. He complains that because of the mistake in the invoice they received “rouge de theatre” instead of “porcelaine [?]”, and it can’t be sold [apparently talking about different colour of fabrics]. Then follows the contents of the invoice, supplemented with a note that “in this country they don’t use red, and the theatre being closed we can’t get rid of it”. The young merchant also mentions trade ships from Bordeaux and hopes that there won’t be too many of them loaded with luxury goods. He notes that sugar, as well as leather and coffee is expensive in Brazil, and then proceeds: “If you want to send me cheap things please don’t send me tobacco and wine, because the former is considered smuggling and very difficult to import, and the second is a very unprofitable article along with all sort of fragrance”. In the end he asks his father for at least 300 francs to buy a horse which is absolutely necessary here. “We live 1 and a half lieue from the city, as I’m obliged to go very often, summer will start here, and the heat is extremely strong; but I can’t go to town often without becoming sick”. Overall a letter in rich content about early French trade in Rio de Janeiro.
The author is most likely a relative of noted French admiral Pierre Jean Honorat Laine (1796-1875).
Price: $650.00 USD