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Business Letters Describing the Financial Market in Cuba

Identifier: MS Group 176

Scope and Content

Collection of handwritten letters dated 1867-1871 and written by various agents in Cuba reporting on business conditions to merchants in Portland, Maine. Most of the letters are addressed to J.B. Brown and Sons or to Churchill, Browns and Manson. The letters report the market prices and sales of molasses, sugar, shooks (knock-down barrels), and other commodities. Additionally, they discuss market conditions, agricultural concerns, grinding and manufacturing activities, and shipping. Descriptions of the ships and which cargoes are selling or not selling are also provided.

The letters are written from such places as Havana, Matanzas, Caibarién, Cárdenas, and Sagua La Grande. The agents include Vanderkreft, La Puerta and Co.; D. Ruiz Toledo; Smith and Company; Juan Ferrin; L.Y. Stocker and Co.; J.C. Burnham and Co.; and C.P. Madan. The majority of the letters are written in English, but a small number are written in Spanish.


  • Creation: 1867-1871


The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

J.B. Brown and Sons was one of the largest private banking houses in Portland. The firm was founded and operated by John Bundy Brown and his sons Philip Henry Brown and John Marshall Brown. John Bundy Brown was a leading capitalist of Maine. He was the head of the Portland Sugar Company, one of the original incorporators and directors of the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Railroad, a director or investor of several other railroads and corporations.

His eldest son, Philip Henry Brown, was born on October 16, 1831. He assisted his father in the development of the Portland Sugar Company, which became one of the most important manufacturing houses of the country, turning out five hundred barrels of sugar a day, and distributing its product to all parts of the United States. During this time, Philip Henry also became a founder of the West India house of Churchill, Browns and Manson.


0.01 Linear feet (3 Folders)

Language of Materials



Includes correspondence, dated 1867-1871, from agents in Cuba reporting on business and market conditions to merchants in Portland, Maine.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Alternate Form of Finding Aid

This guide is available in Spanish at

Acquisition Information

Purchased in 2004 from Charles Apfelbaum.

Alternate Form of Material

Digital reproductions of items in this collection are available online via the Digital Library of the Caribbean and the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

A Guide to the Business Letters Describing the Financial Market in Cuba
Finding aid prepared by John R. Nemmers
October 2004
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America