[Various places, as described below]. 1893. [28]pp. manuscript index, followed by 499 onionskin leaves comprising 402 letters. Five leaves laid in between leaves 195-96. Quarto. Three-quarter leather and cloth boards. Backstrip missing, but boards still holding firm; rubbing and wear to extremities. Some rumpling and curling to pages, ink bleed (heavy at times), a few small tears to leaves, several small tears or holes due to ink burn, occasional mild spotting and foxing. Good. Item #WRCAM55675

A comprehensive look at the operations of a major import/export company in the Caribbean for the first part of 1893. J. Sala & Co. was a large international firm headquartered in New York that did business of all kinds throughout the Caribbean, in particular Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti, but also Cuba, Jamaica, St. Thomas, St. Croix, and Curaçao. In DELMAR'S...TRADES DIRECTORY (1889-90) they are listed in San Juan, Puerto Rico as "Ship Brokers and Commission Merchants." In THE PORT OF NEW YORK... (1893-94), their entry describes them as "General Commission Merchants," Juan Sala and Cosme Batlle are listed as agents. They also provided banking and finance services, in particular in partnership with Batlle, a Spanish merchant and banker, one of the wealthiest men in the Dominican Republic, and a chief creditor to dictator Ulises Heureaux. As this book only covers only January through part of March, 1893, one gets a sense of the extent of the firm's activities. The copy book begins with an alphabetical directory of recipients listed along with their location and the numbers of relevant letters in the copybook. 171 recipients are listed, representing over forty cities in the Caribbean, along with several in England, France, Germany, and Spain. Letters are primarily in Spanish, but also appear in French (for letters to Haiti and France) and English (for letters to England, Germany, Jamaica, and some clients in St. Thomas and St. Croix). Several leaves have a mimeographed memorandum form with the company name and address (144). Almost every letter is annotated in blue pencil with the number(s) of related letters in the copybook, providing a further index; some letters have additional annotations in black pencil. All letters are signed "J. Sala & Co." and deal with a wide variety of business issues, including notices about payments received and credits processed (along with inquiries about late payments) (for example, leaf 112); credit references (leaf 90); consignments of turtle shells (leaves 330 and 464); and shipments of lumber (leaves 127, 355), iron pipes (328, 461), and whisky (463), among other things, although most often the material in question is listed as "sundries." In letters to Enrique Nebot of Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic, a Sala agent discusses the schooner "Annie R. Kemp" (144- 146), which they have chartered on his behalf, and introduce the letter's bearer - the ship's captain - who is not named. The letter is in English, which is presumably for the captain's benefit, since other letters to Nebot are in Spanish. The letter goes on to note that Nebot's "sundries...do not appear on the vessel's manifest, and we have assured him [the captain] in your name that he will have no trouble whatsoever with your Custom House on that or other account..." The Dominican Republic had a notoriously corrupt customs system at this time, and no doubt J. Sala & Co. made sure they took advantage of every available loophole. A densely-informative and very interesting record of an active business engaged in a variety of endeavors in the Caribbean. THE PORT OF NEW YORK: A SOUVENIR OF THE NEW YORK CUSTOM HOUSE, AND INDEX OF THE IMPORTS AND SHIPPING FACILITIES OF THIS PORT (New York, 1893-94). DELMAR'S NEW, REVISED AND COMPLETE CLASSIFIED TRADES DIRECTORY AND MERCANTILE MANUAL OF MEXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA, AND THE WEST INDIA ISLANDS (Chicago: Belford, Clarke & Co., 1889-90).

Price: $750.00

Letter Book of an American Firm Involved in All Sorts of Business in the Caribbean