Diamonds and Coral: Anglo-Dutch Jews and Eighteenth-Century Trade

By Gedalia Yogev | Go to book overview

Chapter 11

The firm in the Anglo-Dutch trade

As was customary in the international trade of that period, the Pragers did not specialize in a single category of goods, but dealt in many dozens of items. The house did not, however, have widespread international connections, of the kind maintained, for instance, by the Francos. It is true that it had, at one time or another, correspondents in Leghorn, Lisbon, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Berlin, Basle, Copenhagen, Petersburg, and Charleston, and we have already mentioned the firm's relations with the bankers Tourton and Baur and Michael-David of Paris and Hanover. Yehiel Prager sometimes sold small quantities of tobacco in Hamburg, 1 Spanish wool was ordered from Bilbao, and the Amsterdam house from time to time sold goods abroad in Denmark, 2 Germany, and Switzerland. But these connections, and particularly those maintained by Yehiel Prager of London, were not very important. Yehiel, though he dealt in imported goods, was principally an exporter, not an importer. He purchased the goods in London and re-exported them mostly to his brothers in Amsterdam who, on their part, seem to have sold most of the merchandise in Holland itself, as was customary among the local merchants of the first hand. 3 Only in the 1780s did the Pragers decide to establish permanent connections overseas by sending several of their sons to the United States and to India. The Pragers were active mainly in Anglo-Dutch trade, and their connections outside this trade were usually mere ramifications of the main business. The goods in which the Pragers dealt were typical for the Anglo-Dutch trade in the eighteenth century chiefly colonial goods of all kinds. Both London and Amsterdam were distribution centres for colonial goods and many of these passed both cities - they were usually disembarked in London or one of the out-ports and sent on to Amsterdam or Rotterdam. A considerable part of this merchandise was again re-exported from Holland, sometimes after receiving some treatment there, and sent to different parts of Europe, but especially to Germany and the Baltic area.

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