Introduction: The Early Pioneers, from the Eighteenth Century to c. 1870
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The first pioneering merchant partnerships — the foundations on which the modern Group has been built — originated two centuries ago when world trade was marked by the growth of early industrial capitalism, especially in Britain. Much earlier, overseas trading had been confined to the limited movement of a small quantity of luxurious and exotic products, such as spices, silks, jewellery, ceramics and precious stones and metals, between the oldest cultural areas of the known world. After the sixteenth century, the modern features of world commerce were slowly emerging. An increased volume of shipments of basic consumer goods such as tea, sugar and tobacco was the result of the specialisation of particular regions in certain products to meet this wider popular demand. World trading developed its own infrastructure: cosmopolitan communities of merchants grew in number; credit and banking systems became established, with the international use of bills of exchange; shipping tonnage increased, and the first commercial newspapers listed the movements of vessels and their cargoes.
KeywordsEarly Nineteenth Century Early Pioneer British Trading Middle Decade Overseas Trading
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