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Margaret Steven

India, China, Austraila: Trade and society 1788 - 1850 by James Broadbent, Suzanne Rickard and Margaret Steven

March 2004, no. 259

Studies of nineteenth-century decorative arts in Australia have largely focused on objects – furniture, silver, ceramics – produced in Australia for the home market, rather than on a systematic study of imports. The design sources for Australian-made furnishings during the nineteenth century were mostly British; this is also reflected in Britain’s being the principal source of exports to Australia. Given the vast amount of imports from Asia available today – from tableware to mobile telephones, and much of it demonstrating the latest in technology – one could be excused for thinking that our reliance on Asian trade is a twentieth- century phenomenon. Not so. As India, China, Australia: Trade and society 1788–1850 amply demonstrates, our trade with Asia began in the eighteenth century even ensured the survival of the fledgling port of Sydney – and we have never looked back.

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