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EXPORT PORCELAIN FOR THE AMERICAN TRADE, 1785-1835,
shows how this highly coveted porcelain symbolizes the historical relationship
between China and the United States in the crucial decades following our Revolution.
The American adventure in China gave rise to a trade that made the young republic’s
first millionaires. More than 130 illustrations show the many ways that U.S.
buyers in effect imposed a real cultural imperialism on China by ordering wares
exclusively painted with American decorations. In return, the Chinese only
exported those porcelains deemed inadequate for the emperor and his court.
Both parties were happy with this lucrative arrangement.
WHAT CRITICS SAY:
“Mrs. Mudge has illustrated her text, the result
of exhaustive research among new manuscript resources, with more than
140 photographs of rare and beautiful old Chinese porcelain pieces from
family and other collections. A platter and tureen belonging to George
Washington is pictured in the frontispiece. The process by which Chinese
artisans created porcelain for the later 18th and early 19th century
American trade is described and illustrated by a rare series of Chinese
engravings. Step by step, one follows the process from the gathering
of raw materials to the packing and loading of the finished pieces onto
ships for delivery to Eastern ports. Mrs. Mudge linkes the exquisite
objects themselves to the history of the era and the cultural climate
of America in those days. ‘The first Americans who came to Canton
in 1784 had no knowledge of China’s long cultural heritage, and
they were puzzled by the haughtiness and aloofness of the Chinese officials
and by the vast amounts of red tape with which they surrounded the trading
activities.’ Later, the Americans ‘found many of the individual
Canton merchants to be cordial, cooperative and honest; and in time,
warm friendships developed among them as well as among the other foreign
[2nd edition, revised] The reasons for this book’s
uniqueness when it first appeared in 1962 still stand. It is the only
work that goes to fresh, primary shipping sources to tell the story of
the trade in export Chinese porcelain with America. The time of early
porcelain trade was one of adventure and high profit that in the present
normalization of relations with China may now be repeated.