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Painted to either side with a 24-gun three-masted East Indiaman flying the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Flag, a further yellow pennant also flying from the top sail, each separated by two floral sprigs containing roses, asters and peony, the foot with a gilt key-fret border reserved against a salmon-pink ground within green enamel bands, the interior with an oval cartouche containing two monograms 'GJ' and 'LCWB' festooned with ribbons and flowers, the rim with an elaborate diaper-panelled border adorned with roses, cornucopia, shells and entwined gilt 'cash' medallions linked with swags on husks and pendant drops.

'The Austrian East India Company' or as it is more correctly known 'The Imperial Asiatic Company of Trieste and Antwerp' was founded by William Bolts in 1775 and was wound up in 1785.

Bolts, of English/German parentage, was a Dutch-born merchant initially involved in trade with India and in the employment of the British East India Company and later became an independent trader. In 1775 he approached the Austro-Hungarian Empire to re-engage with the Austrian trade to India from the Adriatic port of Trieste. His first journey to India was in 1776, on the former Indiaman Earl of Lincoln under the flag of the Holy Roman Empire, renamed the Giuseppe e Teresa. The charter was to last for ten years, during which time the company was plagued with financial uncertainty and global political turmoil.

In 1781 the Imperial Company was opened to public subscription to raise more cash. Intending to capitalise on the American war of Independence they sent five ships to Canton to maximise on the China tea trade. Sadly, armistice was agreed in 1783, which meant the following season a record number of ships appeared in Canton, thirty-eight including the five Imperial vessels. With a collapse of the price of tea in Europe in 1784, the Company was bankrupted and the ships were sold in 1786.

An article in the Dublin press of 25th May 1786 recorded the sale of the dissolved company's ships, 'together with their whole apparel, guns, stores, &c.' and recorded 'The destruction of this company, as well as several others in Europe, is in a great measure owing to the commutation tea tax in England, and the advantages which territorial possessions throw in favour of the British Company'.

It is therefore likely that the present Indiaman depicted on this fine bowl, is one of the following ships:

The Croate

The Kollowrath

The Zinzendorff

The Archiduc Maximilian

The Autrichien
More Information
Year Circa 1775 - 1785
Literature It is interesting to note that the present bowl shares a similar internal border to that of a Hong punch bowl, exhibited in 'A Tale of Three Cities, Canton, Shanghai & Hong Kong, Three Centuries of Sino-British Trade in the Decorative Arts, London 1997, C
Condition Three short restored hairlines to the rim, one with a small area of loss, approximately 1cm to the rim. No area of decoration of each ship is affected.