Saturday, 25 July 2015

Sherry in New York in 1786

Jerez academic José Luís Jiménez has come up with a really interesting document showing the importation of Sherry to New York in 1786. Although Sherry was already imported during British rule, it increased after independence in 1776. The first president, George Washington, drank it in his punch and Thomas Jefferson had his Sherry sent to him by the US consul in Cádiz, Joseph Iznardi.

Little or nothing is known about the role played in the flow of wine to the East coast of this new country by the European merchants Dominick Lynch (Galway 1754-New York 1825) and Thomas Stoughton (1748-1826). Moving from Bruges to New York before his partner in 1783, Stoughton built new and pioneering networks of trade with Spain and Spanish America, keeping a ledger which survives of his costs and profits.

He imported Madeira, Sherry, Málaga and Tenerife wines as well as brandy, lemons and raisins from Spain and southeast Europe. He imported sugar, coffee, silver and “Nicarauan wood” from Cuba and central America. At the same time he exported flour and wood to Dublin, Amsterdam, Cádiz and the Spanish and French islands of the Caribbean. He was even the Spanish consul in New York from 1794 till 1812, and his relatives maintained business and family relations with Spain.

There are one or two really interesting things in this page from the ledger. Firstly that these accounts are in British pounds, shillings and pence, coming from a time just before the Dollar was in use - yet the raisins are priced in Dollars and Sterling. Secondly the types of wine are not specified. You can't argue with the prices though!

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