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Bill of Lading 1782

Bill of Lading

  • Printed document with manuscript additions
  • Nizza [Nice] to Agde [Southern France]
  • Transporting Lavender and Garlic waters
  • 1782
  • 197 x 146mm (7¾ x 5¾in)

The Bill of Lading has been an essential document in international trade for centuries.
Its origins can be traced back to ancient Mediterranean seafaring civilisations such as
the Phoenicians, who used a form of a Bill of Lading to record cargo shipments.

However, the modern Bill of Lading as we know it today has its roots in medieval Europe.
During this time, bills of lading were used as a receipt for goods being transported on a ship.
The document was handed to the shipper, who could use it to claim ownership of the goods
upon arrival at the destination port.

As international trade continued to grow, the Bill of Lading evolved into a crucial legal document
that played a vital role in facilitating commerce across the globe. Today, Bills of Lading remain a crucial part of international trade and continue to provide a record of the cargo being transported, along with other important details such as the terms of the contract and the responsibilities of the parties involved.

Detail from Bill of Lading 1854
Detail from Bill of Lading shipped by Cartan Setty upon the good ship Catherine Apcar, 500 bags of rice being
marked and numbered as in the margin, bound for Port Louis, Mauritius. Dated in Calcutta 22 August 1854.

Landscape in format, the Bill of Lading often has an illustration at the top left showing a wharf side scene of ships being laded or more commonly a ship at sea. The wording of the bill usually begins "Shipped in good order and well conditioned" followed by manuscript additions detailing the name of the ship, its Master for the voyage, where it is at anchor, the destination port and description of the goods. The cargo, be it barrels, bags, bales or casks, is marked and numbered and the same identifying marks are also recorded in the left margin or the body of the document.

Bill of Lading 1855
Bill of Lading 210 x 133mm (8¼ x 5¼in). Shipped by Pearychand Mittra, bags of rice bound for Mauritius,
now riding at anchor in the River Hooghly. Dated in Calcutta 26 February 1855.

The hazards of the high seas in the 19th century were not overlooked with variation of this wording often included in the document: the act of God, the Queen's enemies, Fire and all and every other Dangers and Accidents of the Seas, Rivers and Navigations, of whatever nature and kind soever, excepted. The document concludes: And so God send the good Ship to her desired Port in safety. Amen.


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