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



1869: Suez Canal aided European influence in Pacific: new era of European influence: journey from Asia to Europe reduced by 6,500 km

The Suez Canal was constructed between 1859 and 1869 by French and Egyptians interests with a cost of about 100 million dollars.  It removed the need to go around Africa to get the Asia and the Pacific, The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 brought forward a new era of European influence in Pacific Asia.  The region became commercially accessible and colonial trade expanded as a result of increased interactions because of a reduced friction of distance

6500km cheaper:  The journey from Asia to Europe was considerably reduced by saving 6,500 km from the circum African route.

Geographical Impacts:  Planned by the French but constructed by the British, the Suez Canal opened in 1869. It represents, along with the Panama Canal, one of the most significant maritime “shortcuts” ever built. It brought a new era of European influence in Pacific Asia by reducing the journey (blue line) from Asia to Europe by about 6,000 km.

Great Britain gains: Great Britain, the maritime power of the time, benefited substantially from this improved access. For instance, the Suez Canal shortened the distance on a maritime journey:

–  from London to Bombay by 41%;

 – from London to Shanghai by 32%.

The Panama Canal, completed in 1914, considerably shortens the maritime distances between the American East and West coasts by a factor of 13,000 km. 

– In 1874, Britain bought the shares of the Suez Canal Company and became its sole owner. According to the Convention of Constantinople signed in 1888, the canal was to be open to vessels of all nations in time of peace or in war. However, Great Britain claimed the need to control the area to maintain its maritime power and colonial interests (namely in South Asia). In 1936, it acquired the right to maintain defense forces along the Suez Canal, which turned out to be of strategic importance during World War II to uphold Asia-Europe supply routes for the Allies.

The Strategic Space of International Transportation Author : Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue 1. The Geostrategy Of International Transportation ).http://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch5en/conc5en/ch5c1en.html

1813: Fiji conflict over sandalwood; all the beachcomber Europeans were murdered, except Dillon, a Prussian named Martin Bushart, and a seaman, William Wilson

In 1813 the East India Company’s ship Hunter, voyaging from Calcutta to Sydney, called at the Fiji Islands.
Beach combers in paradise: They discovered that several Europeans were living on one of the group. Some had been shipwrecked; some had deserted from vessels; but they had become accustomed to the life and preferred it.
Paid to collect sandal wood and beche-de-mer: The Hunter employed a party of them to collect sandal wood and beche-de-mer, one of her junior officers, Peter Dillon, being in charge. A quarrel with natives occurred, and all the Europeans were murdered, except Dillon, a Prussian named Martin Bushart, and a seaman, William Wilson.
Bushart and “Lascar Joe” land at Santa Cruz Islands with Bushart’s wife: After the affray Bushart would certainly have been slain had he remained, so he induced the captain of the  Hunter to give him a passage to the first land reached. Accordingly Bushart, a Fiji woman who was his wife, and a Lascar companion, were landed on Barwell Island, or Tucopia ( Santa Cruz Islands)
Larperouse SCOTT, Ernest, 1868-1939 Publisher Sydney : Angus & Robertson, 1912 ; Printer W.C. Penfold

21 June 1840, American whaler Shylock, wrecked on Vatoa Reef, missionary, James Calvert does deal to buy 2100 hogsheads of oil

The American whaler Shylock, was was wrecked on Vatoa Reef on the night of 21 June 1840. The master, first mate, and 16 hands got away in two boats.

Eight men were left on the wreck; but seven managed to get on shore on a jibboom. Lieutenant-Commander Ringgold, of the United States Exploring Expedition, who went down to Vatoa in August 1840, to investigate, says that the derelicts were treated in a kindly manner by the natives of Vatoa who were then under the influence of native Christian teachers. Captain Taber, afraid to land in Fiji, had gone to the Friendly Islands, and returned to Lakemba in the Triton with Thomas Williams and (Wesleyan Missionary) Superintendent Waterhouse. The Shylock at the time of the disaster had a cargo of 2100 hogsheads of oil, of which Calvert bought a quantity at a cheap rate, and shared it with his brethren at Rewa, Vewa and Somosomo.

The Journal Of Thomas Williams, Missionary In Fiji, 1840-1853 By G. C. Henderson, M.a. (Oxon.) Emeritus Professor Of History, Adelaide University. Author Of Sir George Grey: Founder Of Empire In Southern Lands, Fiji And The Fijians” 1845 -1856. In Two Volumes Vol. I Australia Angus & Robertson Ltd, 1931. The original manuscript of The Journal Of Thomas Williams is in the Mitchell Library, Sydney, in two folios, containing 874 pages and about 250,000 words.

1858: Mr. John Binner, Wesleyan teacher, and Mr. John Binner, oil trader are the same person

On the 10th September, 1858, the new British Consul arrived in Levuka. William Pritchard rented two rooms from  John Binner.  Binner was the Wesleyan mission Training Master at Levuka, and under another hat a considerable trader.

Binner’s fleet of trading boats: William Pritchard reported “Another of the complaints thus early brought before me was against the natives of Waca, a small island on the western limits of the group. Mr. Binner, Wesleyan Mission Training Master at Levuka, had several boats, manned by mixed crews of whites and natives, trading amongst the islands for cocoa- nut oil, beche-de-mer, and turtle-shell.
Waea peoples ate Binners crew: A few weeks before my arrival, one of his boats had gone to Waea, in charge of two white men and some natives; one of the former was an Englishman, and the other an American.The natives of Waea had captured the boat, killed and eaten the crew, and appropriated the merchandise. Mr. Binner, as a British subject and owner of the boat and cargo, now pressed his ” claim for redress and indemnity.”

Binner calls in US fire power: ... the U.S. corvette ‘ Vandalia ‘ arrived at Levuka, and at the request of the American Consul, her commander,

Mission politics: Captain Sinclair, took up the matter on behalf of the murdered American, and who it now appeared was in some manner interested with Mr. Binner in the ownership of the boat or cargo,  a fact which had not been made apparent in the first statement of the case to me. Mr. Binner was now convinced that it would be less injurious to the Wesleyan mission for Captain Sinclair to inflict retributive punishment for the murder of the American and his companion, rather than for me to press the savages ” for redress and indemnity ” for Mr. Binnes’s calicoes and hatchets. And so, much to my satisfaction, the case passed out of my hands into those of Captain Sinclair. A party of fifty men was quickly dispatched to Waea, to demand the murderers and to obtain indemnity.

500 men at Waea prepare to fight; The Waea people, mustering nearly five hundred fighting-men, defied the party and declined all communications. The Americans attacked them in their fort on the summit of a hill some 800 feet high. Some twenty of the natives were killed, as many wounded, and their town and fort burnt ; of the Americans five were wounded.