1881: C. Hedemann offered Conrad Machens employment at Levuka, Fiji; German trade expands

From the book Conrad Machens: A merchant living between Germany
and Fiji (1856-1930) Husum, 2009, 181 pages including two originals by Conrad making, many contemporary b / w illustrations, hardcover, 17 x 24 cm
ISBN 978-3-89876-482-7 € 19.95 Husum Publishing Group

This item is translated from a German item on Wikipaedia, sourced from a book and exhibition about Machens and Gerrman trade in the Pacific.

Conrad Machens, born 3 May 1856 in Ahrbergen, was a German South Seas buyer. Machens was a seventh or eighth child of farmer Johann Conrad Machens (1806-1877) and second wife Therese Magdalene Machen (1818-1906), in the village Ahrbergen, near Hildesheim (since 1866, Prussian).

Age 17 years Conrad Machens went  to the province capital Hanover for training. In the spring 1876  he had an employment in a meat goods wholesale in Hamburg.

Two years later, Conrad Machens, equipped with a good reference, left the Hanseatic city and went to London.

When Conrad Machens found no place there, he continued to travel.

Conrad Machens emigrated to Australia 17 September 1878 on board the SS Hankow of the Colonial Line of Australian Packets,

In Sydney Conrad Machens received  a temporary job clerking for loading and unloaded ships owned by Frederick Caesar Hedemann. Hedemann traded between Europe and the South Seas.

Conrad Machens then worked;

–  as a salesman in an ethnic German gentleman clothes business in Maitland;

–  as a decorator on the World Fair 1879 in Sydney as well as driving goods – in New South Wales. Machens borrowed 250 pounds from Hedemann to set up his own business.

In , since 1874, a  British Crown Colony.

There, in the capital at that time Levuka on the small island Ovalau, Hedemann 1871 had support (today still existing) of the Hamburg commercial firm Wachsmuth & Krogmann (gegr. 1797), and the  famous Hamburg trading firms Joh. Cesar Godeffroy & Son

The company formed under the name Hedemann & Co. and by led by Hedemanns younger brother Ferdinand Hugo.

In Fiji  Conrad Machens was a successful buyer within only few years and worked also to document  conditions of Fiji.

In 1883 Conrad Machens  became a partner with Hedemanns and in 1888 temporarily exclusive owner of the increasing enterprise.

In the same year Conrad Machens returned for the first time from business reasons to Germany and married the 16-year old Bertha Sebald, daughter of the Hildesheimer of hairdresser master and inventor of a well-known (Haartinktur?) shortly before Conrad and Bertha Machen  returned journey to Fiji on 14 January 1889 (with Johann Sebald?).

In Fiji Conrad and Bertha Machen in Fiji had two daughters, Florence and Bertha. Shortly after the birth of Bertha Junior  Bertha Machen died aged 20 years on 27 August 1892 child bed fever. (The grave is at the cemetery of Levuka.)

The care of two small children transferred to a family worker of many years, “Charley”, a Solomon Islander. (Charley Seromeo).

Conrad Machens decided it was better in the long term to give the children to the care of his mother and his older sister in Germany in order thereby a German education to make possible at the same time.

Conrad Machens travelled with Charley and the little girls; Florence and Bertha to Germany on one year absence of Fiji.

In his absence Conrad Machens invited a familiar coworker of many years Frederick Vollmer (1852-1918, later mayor of Levuka), a British naturalized Hamburger, as a partner to the company.

Conrad Machens also appointed the British naturalized William Kramp (1858-1943) as manager in co-operation with his new partner Frederick Vollmer .

Im 1895 Conrad Machens returned temporarily to Fiji, decided however, also for health reasons to remain permanently  from 1897 in Germany in order to transact from now on the purchases of European goods (particularly of materials from Manchester, the European center of the textile industry) for the export into the South Seas.

The management it left to a large extent to its two German (British naturalized) partners Frederick Vollmer  and William Kramp (1858-1943).

Conrad Machens introduced 1897 from Germany  private picture postcard on the Fiji islands. In the following years Conrad Machens undertook numerous expanded journeys outside of Europe, among other things into the United States of America, to Canada, India, Japan and China as well as into the German colony Samoa.

Conrad Machens documented experiences in numerous detailed, so far unpublished reports on a journey.

During the outbreak of the First World War Conrad Machens on his fifth sea voyage was to Fiji faced increasing differences over the further future of his company. Hedemann & Co. wanted to negotiate.

By the start of the war entrance the German steamers could not enter Fiji and Conrad Machens begain to work from port of Tjilatjap in Java.

From there the British refused Conrad Machens departure. So Conrad Machens changed the company into a British Limited company.

With the aid of Sir Ernest Bickham Sweet Escott (1857-1941) at the end of of May 1915 Conrad Machens had permission to embark on a small American Schooner to San Francisco.

In Fiji Conrad Machens – making as much money before – found the need to exchange for in gold.

On 26 August 1915 Conrad Machens went in New York on board a Danish steamer.

On 15 September after an exciting sea voyage Conrad Machens  was finally again at his home-town of Hildesheim.   There Conrad Machens drew war loans with the saved gold in patriotic enthusiasm, for 45.000 Marks.

Conrad Machens stayed in his homeland; Germany

But in Levukia Frederick Vollmer  and William Kramp were declared enemy aliens, at the beginning of November 1917.  They were extradited and interned in Australia until the end of the war.

Frederick Vollmer died shortly after his premature release  13 March 1918.

The company Hedemann & Co., which 1915 had been reorganized preventing into one limited company with capital stock had been increased to £ 30,000, was meanwhile liquidated like the remaining German Konkurrenzfirmen.

From the end of the war Conrad Machens struggled – on the basis of article 297 of the Versaille of Peace Treaty – for many years for his compensation. Conrad Machens however at end of 1924 lost his claims for damage due to the additional deprivation of its Prussian nationality. Thereupon it strove for the reimbursement of proceeds from the liquidation of its private property with the Londoner places.

The last years of his life Conrad Machens spent with   of his family in Hildesheim.

He died there on 27 April 1930.

The family burial place with its grave is in the Godehardi cemetery.

Conrad Machenss left an extensive private and business correspondence, several handwritten reports on a journey and landeskundliche recordings as well as hundreds of photographies with motives of the archipelagos Fiji, in private property, Samoa, Tonga and the Norfolk island. These show that there was another form apart from the colonialism in the conventional sense still another German commitments in the South Seas. Beyond that they provide a singular culture, social and economics source for a time of increasing globalization during late 19. and to early 20. Century.

Note: translated from German from http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conrad_Machens

Sources Handwritten letters and recordings, private archives of the family of Mueller making. Literature [work on] The Cyclopedia OF Fiji (Illustrated). A Complete Historical and Commercial Review oF Fiji (Sydney 1907; Reprint Fiji museum, Suva, Fiji, 1984) P. 321. Stefan A. Lütgert: ” Fiji Machens” – a Hildesheimer buyer in the South Seas.The magazine for history and culture, number 9/2008, P. 26-30. Ders.: Conrad Machens – a buyer life between Germany and Fiji. Husum publishing house, Husum 2009, ISBN 978-3-89876-482-7. Ders. (Hrsg.): Conrad Machens. Letters from Fiji from the year 1883. Books on and GmbH, north first EDT 2010, ISBN 978-3-8391-3811-Stephan A. Lutgert, Conrad Machens: A merchant living between Germany

and Fiji (1856-1930) Husum, 2009, 181 pages including two originals by Conrad making, many contemporary b / w illustrations, hardcover, 17 x 24 cm

ISBN 978-3-89876-482-7 € 19.95 Husum Publishing Group