Imports from Asia

Chinese export ceramic teapot


During the period of the China Trade, when Mainers were sailing to ports in China, the Qing (or Ch'ing) Dynasty (1644-1911) was in power. The Qing Dynasty was established by the Manchus in northeastern China, and expanded to surrounding territories of Inner Asia, establishing the Empire of the Great Qing.Read more.
exported teaTea

Tea comes from a shrub, Camellia sinensos, whose leaves, buds, and internodes are made into a beverage by infusion with boiling water.
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, silkSilk

The thread made by silk worms to form their cocoons.
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, sugar, matting, spices, clothing, silver, porcelainPorcelain

A very white, hard, translucent type of ceramic ware.
, furniture, lacquerwareLacquerware

Wooden objects coated with lacquer, the varnish being made from the sap of the lacquer tree of China and Japan, which forms a smooth, hard surface that was often inlaid with designs.
, and decorative items to the United States and other countries.

Tea was introduced to England and her possessions in the middle of the seventeenth century. In China, it had been known for centuries. Tea played a role in world events in the 18th century, including the American Revolution.

The Chinese produced certain items specifically for export. Some, such as Chinese artChinese Art

Paintings done by Chinese artists during the period of the China Trade tended to follow Western styles of portraiture.
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and Chinese export porcelain, were made for resale in foreign markets. Other items were bought by merchants and sea captains for family members and friends, and for their own homes. These included furniture, sewing boxes, and clothing, not suited for resale but moderate enough in price for merchants to purchase for their own use.


Chinese tea box Chinese ceramic tea bowl and saucer

Rose medallion plate

One of the most popular export porcelain patterns from China was called Famille Rose, or Rose MedallionRose Medallion Famille Rose

A design often used on Chinese export porcelain, in which flowers, people, etc. are painted inside round or oval medallion-shaped borders. It is also known as Famille Rose.
. The well-known blue and white pattern known as Blue WillowBlue Willow

A blue and white porcelain design, introduced in England in 1780, based on a Chinese legend. It traditionally shows a house, willow trees, a bridge, and Chinese figures.
depicts Chinese scenes but was actually made in England.

Between 1860 and 1900, the United States’ tea imports from China more than doubled. Chinese exports also included firecrackers, feathers, and tungstenTungsten

A hard, brittle, corrosion-resistant metal having the highest melting point and lowest vapor pressure of any metal. It is used in electrical elements, especially lamp filaments.
ore. From Hong Kong came sugar, spices, rice, matting, and cementCement

Mixture of clay, lime, and other materials ground to a powder and heated together so that the mixture combines (sintering).
. Coal was carried from Australia to Chile, where nitratesNitrate

A fertilizer consisting of potassium nitrate or sodium nitrate, formed from nitric acid.
were loaded for the U.S. Sugar came from Java, and juteJute

A coarse fiber from one of two East Indian plants, used for making burlap, or mixed with hemp for rope.
from Calcutta. Jute was needed for the manufacture of linoleum in New York.