Norfolk, Virginia via the ship Trisnifor to Funchal, Madeira: 15 August 1828. Unbound. This one-page stampless folded letter was carried to Funchal, Madeira off the coast of northwest Africa at a privately-determined rate by ship’s captain. It measures 16” x 10” unfolded and bears a manuscript annotation reading “via Azores p Trisnifor(?)”. Docketing reads “Norfold Virginia / 15 August 1828 / Anthony Pomar / recd 3 April ansd 6th 1829”. 228 days in transit. In nice shape.
This business letter discussing problems with a previous transaction reads in part
“I have received your favour 16th April lats with a/c sale . . . also advising your having remitted the balance. . .. I am very sorry for the trouble you have experienced in this affair and am myself satisfied. I have sent your account to the owner [of the Brig Enterprise] . . . who had written me nothing concerning them & therefore suppose he found the correct. . ..”. Very good. Item #009789
Norfolk, Virginia was one of the few major early 19th century ports in the American South, and by 1810 was primarily exporting corn, wheat, and flour to Great Britain and the West Indies. However, it also did a brisk trade with Portuguese Madeira where after delivering their cargo, ships would return to the United States loaded with Madeira wine, which was one of (if not the) most popular drinks in America.
The firm of Newton, Gordon, Murdock & Scott was established in Madeira in the late 1740s by expatriates who fled Scotland after fighting for Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) in the failed Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. There its first partners soon became successful wine traders, eventually branching out into other staples such as flour, corn, rice, pork, beef, etc.
(For additional information see Costa’s dissertation “Economic Development and political authority: Norfolk Virginia merchant-magistrates,” and Siener’s dissertation ”Economic development in revolutionary Virginia: Fredericksburg 1750-1810”.)
The University of Michigan holds a collection of 105 incoming letters sent by the Newton, Gordon, and Johnstone firm to American merchants, and Penn State holds an archive of 39 outgoing letters to the company, mostly from Philadelphia traders. Outside of the Penn State collection, examples of correspondence from the United States to Madeira is quite scarce. No auction records for similar letters are found at the Rare Book Hub, and the Stamp Auction Network reports only nine between the United States and Madeira have appeared at auction in the last 21 years.