Trade, truck, custom and barter – glimpses from slave-trade cargoes
This chapter focuses on the 'exchange for merchandise' and explores cargoes from the eighteenth-century slave trade emanating from France. The examination of the eighteenth-century trade has provided important insights into its market structure, the provenance of trade goods, the judgements and calculations required by traders to prepare cargoes to meet market demand, and the need for multi-skilled captains to handle the operations once the vessel left port. The chapter analyses the trade originating in the port city of Nantes, as the leading trade centre, only to cede this rank to Bordeaux in the latter stages. It suggests areas for future work, especially to bring together the details from these cargoes with more macro-level analyses of global changes in trade and colonisation. The chapter explains that African traders were sophisticated consumers in their demands for particular items sourced from particular locales.