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Printed by Edward Suter, printer to the Infant School Society, 19. Cheapside, London, for the Ladies’ Society for Promoting the Early Education of Negro Children. This aquatint plate print was first published in 1823, in William Clark’s Ten views in the Island of Antigua and was later re-used, along with other plates in the same series, by the Ladies’ Societ y to teach chi ldren to read.
Painted Plate of Antigua
Marco Pierini, The Rum Historian for "Got Rum?" magazine, talks about "Rum Conquers the British Domestic Market" in the September 2014 issue.
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Mr. Marco Pierini is from Tuscany, Italy. He has had a real passion for history and a few years ago he discovered rum. He is now "Got Rum?" Rum Historian.
Rum Conquers the British Domestic Market
By the beginning of XVIII Century, England was one of the great European and world powers. Its foreign policy hinged on two fundamental objectives: to defend and expand its colonial and commercial empire and to maintain the balance of power in Europe, so that no one country was strong enough to dominate the continent.
Both these objectives brought England to fight numerous wars and above all to clash with France, the only real competitor in the fight for supremacy.
It became, therefore, increasingly intolerable to finance the enemy through the massive imports of wine and brandy.
Regarding wine, an alternative was quickly found. Trade agreements were signed with Portugal, and Portuguese wine replaced French wine to a large extent, thanks also to the British fondness for sweet wines.
But brandy was a hard nut to crack. The English upper classes loved it and didn’t want to do without it.
During one of the wars of the period, the English Army spent a long time in the Low Countries and there the soldiers learnt to appreciate gin, a local alcoholic drink which had been recently invented.
The history of gin is extremely interesting, and perhaps sooner or later we will deal with it as it deserves. For now, all we need to know is that in a few years England became a great producer and consumer of gin. But gin remained a drink for the poor. On top of that, gin was made from grain, necessary to make bread, the staple diet of the lower classes.
And then someone discovered rum.
Rum was entirely produced in the English colonies, so the wealth spent to buy it stayed at home. Rum was not made from precious grain, it was a by-product of sugar production, available in huge quantities. It was therefore the perfect beverage to replace brandy.
But English people were not well acquainted with it yet, and its consumption, at the beginning of the century, was still almost non-existent. And the upper classes did not consider it suitable for themselves: it was rough, not refined enough and anyway, it was too cheap.
It was necessary to get the people used to drinking rum, and, at the same time, to improve its image in order to make it worthy of the upper classes. It did not seem an easy undertaking, but the lobby of the West Indies planters, the Parliament, the Government and British officials in general joined forces to devise what today we would call a massive promotional campaign to boost rum consumption.
And they were extremely successful:
• In 1697 England and Wales imported only 22 gallons of rum.
• In 1710 22.000 gallons.
• In 1733 500.000 gallons!
• As of 1741, rum imports regularly over took those of brandy.
How did they do that?
In order to know, you must have the patience to wait until the next installments.
-This article was written by Mr. Marco Pierini, The Rum Historian for "Got Rum?" magazine-