A GUILD OF JEWISH TRADERS AT SMYRNA IN THE BEGINNING OF THE XVIIIth CENTURY

A GUILD OF JEWISH TRADERS AT SMYRNA IN THE BEGINNING OF THE XVIIIth ממזרח וממערב כרך הCENTURY
by

E. BASHAN
From the sources published up to now, it is known that from the beginning of the XlXth century, or possibly from the end of the XVIIIth, Jewish traders and craftsmen were organized in their own guilds. Five documents (July-December 1706) from the Levant Company's archives, published here, give evidence on Jewish traders in Smyrna, who were organized and represented by "Deputation of the Jewish Nation", at the beginning of the XVIIIth century. It is mentioned in minutes of assemblies of the English factors, who negotiated through their consul with that "deputation" on the "unreasonable extravagant reward of brokerage" taken by Jews, who dominated the selling of grogram yarn to English traders. The English demanded that brokerage should be \\% ad valorem, instead of 10%. The Jews agreed to 6%. The resolution was taken by the English, who called the chief merchants of the Greek and Armenian nations to join them. They committed themselves not to pay more.

Probable reasons why the Jews were willing to reduce their profits were the fear of Armenian & Greek competition, who might offer their services to the British and other European traders, also competition of Jews who did not belong to the guild. Until 1819 no regulation was adopted by the Smyrna Jewish community prohibiting Jews to encroach on others who served as brokers.

It is not known whether the Jews finally accepted the demands of the English. Other sources, however, indicate the decisive role played by the Jews in the economic activity of the English in Smyrna, in buying and selling them various materials. From these documents one can also derive information on the important part of the Jews in international trade carried on in Smyrna.

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