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East and West

Importers such as the Levant Company, the Merchant Adventurers, and the East India Company continued to import new goods tailored to the English market. Developing new trading links all over the world, English merchants brought back goods like indigo, textiles, sugar ,and tobacco to tempt shoppers increasingly intrigued by materials and patterns with a foreign, exotic design.


This pattern for a powder box is printed in John Stalker and George Parker's A treatise of Japaning and Varnishing , which claims to include "above an hundred distinct patterns for Japan-work, in imitation of the Indians, for tables, stands, frames, cabinets, boxes, etc." These decorating patterns were very popular as South Asian lacquer came into vogue. When trade to China and Japan was disrupted in the middle of the seventeenth century and it became increasingly difficult to buy exports, design books like A treatise of Japaning and Varnishing provided new ways for people to fulfill their consumer desires, giving them detailed instructions on how to make these goods themselves.




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John Stalker. A treatise of japanning and varnishing. Oxford, 1688 (Detail).

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