Hong Bowl, 1785-1800

The American flag flies on this Chinese-made punch bowl, indicating the opportunities that awaited American merchants in China in the early 19th century.  Debarred from trading in Canton as English colonists, American traders entered the China trade in 1784, later than all other nations.  Americans soon eclipsed the British in their volume of trade with China by modifying their vessels to make them faster, providing the Chinese with new products such as furs and ginseng, and developing unique trading methods.

The panoramic view on this bowl depicts the “hongs” – the offices and living spaces of foreign merchants in China.



Other objects in the merchant marketplace…