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  • (Out of Stock) London Letters Home of Gus Farley Jr.

(Out of Stock) London Letters Home of Gus Farley Jr.

Edited by Penelope Pelham West

English , 2022/01 Proverse Hong Kong

Tags: Edited Letters

210 x 145 mm , 376pp ISBN / ISSN : 978-988-8492-37-4

  • US$40.00

Out Of Stock

London Letters Home (1861-1865) of an American Apprentice Preparing for the Far East Tea Trade, Gus Farley Jr. (1844-1899), presents family letters and other original family materials in their historical and social context on both sides of the Atlantic.  We see, through the eyes of a young American, his entry into the business culture of Dickens’ London and learn about the life and leisure of an apprentice tea-taster at the time.  

GUSTAVUS FARLEY, Jr. (1844-1899) came from a family of tanners, sea captains and public servants in Ipswich MA.  He attended Mr. Allen’s progressive school. When he turned 17, the Civil War was gathering momentum, and his family sent him to London to apprentice in the Tea Trade with the goal of joining the prominent firm of Augustine Heard & Co, in China, managed by his cousins for their Uncle Augustine.  Gus earned his Tea Tasting certificate in 1864. In China, Gus worked in Shanghai, then went to Yokohama, Japan, which had been opened to western commerce in 1859.  By 1868, Gus was the head of the Yokohama branch of Augustine Heard & Co.  But in 1875, the company went bankrupt and Gus with a fellow clerk, Jack Fraser of Edinburgh, formed Fraser, Farley Co.  In 1880, Gus married Katharine Cheney (1854-1933), daughter of one of the founders of the Cheney Brothers silk mill and brought her out to Japan.  In 1883, Capt. Varnum joined the firm, and Gus and Katharine moved to New York City to oversee the American side of business. Over the next 20 years, Fraser, Farley, Varnum & Co was the first to export 1,000,000 # black tea to USA, capitalizing on innovative tea processing, packing and marketing. The firm thrived until Gus’ death in 1899, and the death of Jack Fraser a year later.



“a fascinating window into the formative experiences of a youthful American Asia trader” 

—Priscilla Roberts, Ph.D., Faculty of Business, City University of Macau.

 “comparisons of life in England and New England... comments on evolving British and American views of the Civil War.”

—Stephen Brobeck, Ph.D.  (American Studies at University of Pennsylvania)

“a treasure of correspondence from a Massachusetts young man”

—Gordon Harris, Town historian, Ipswich Massachusetts.

“an intimate insight into the tea trade ... also ... a fascinating diary of the young American's 123-day voyage from Boston to Hong Kong.”

—Brian Burke-Gaffney, Ph.D., Professor, Nagasaki Institute of Applied Science.

 “unique vignettes from the perspective of a late teenage American expatriate of life in London in the mid-19th century”

—George W H Cautherley, OBE, DBA (Hon), Great-great-great grandson of George Washington Heard Sr. and Elizabeth Ann Farley.

“unrivaled insight into the training of young professionals of this era... their success hinged upon courage, flexibility and resilience in the face of rapidly changing commercial fortunes.”  

—John Berdell, Ph.D. , Professor of Economics, DePaul University, Chicago Illinois.

“Gus Farley, Jr.’s training as a tea-taster in Mincing Lane, then the centre of the world’s tea trade, took place...in the heyday of the fabled tea clipper ships.”

—Mike Galbraith, MA, author of many articles on Japan’s Edo and Meiji periods.

PENELOPE PELHAM WEST, was born in the USA, in Washington, D.C. but went north to Wellesley College to seek the New England roots of her family. The gift of a 17th century shoe initiated her into the pleasures of researching, traveling and writing. The inspiration for this particular book was her introduction to a cousin’s cache of 17-year old Gus Farley’s letters home to America, typescript stories of Gus as a boy and of his mother’s Christmas voyage from Sweden when she was nine. 

Penelope West lives in Maine, USA in a net zero all electric house and has been interested in history and her New England family roots since her college days. But it was a cousin’s gift of a 17th century shoe, which initiated her into the pleasures of researching, traveling and writing. Her exploration into her great grandfather’s life, of which London Letters Home is the fruit, began when her cousin Rob Palmer shared his cache of Gus Farley’s letters home, along with two accounts of their family written by his Gus’ sister Eunice Farley Felton. 

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