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Russian Flax and Hemp Bale Seals from

Memel, Lithuania

Copyright 2020 © Ged Dodd
aka PeaceHavens Project
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   MEMEL, (Klaiped) Lithuania. (Also called Mimmelburg in German). Memel was a normally ice-free Port at the mouth of the Akmena-Dane River. The 17th century saw turbulent times in Memel with the city destroyed by the Swedes in 1678. Indeed, the city was so used to attack that until the 1600s, brick or stone houses were forbidden in case they provided refuge for attacking forces. The fine Wilna flax was originally exported via Memel and Konigsberg until the arrival of the Edlykuhu railway whereupon it was all transported directly to Konigsberg. Trade was supported by merchants and 12 consulates from foreign countries and the "Reichsbank" and was important for trade in wood, linseed, flax, hemp, coal, fertilizer and fish (especially herring) etc..  By 1903, in the large harbour, protected with a light-house, they counted 570 ocean ships arriving and 598 ships departing. The bulk of the flax was exported through the Baltic ports of Riga and St Petersburg (including Cronstadt) and from Konigsberg, Libau, Memel, Narva, Pernau, Revel, Tilsit, Windau,  and from Archangel on the White Sea when it wasn't frozen up. Shipments of flax were made from Memel as 4 brands (Superior to 3-band) and NB (Notabene, Paternoster or Badstuben Cut, usually sent to Portugal).

  Other smaller ports on the Coupland coast did not fare so well. British merchants established enterprises in Šventoji in 1685 but during the Great Northern War, the Swedish Army ravaged Palanga, destroyed the harbour at Šventoji, and blocked up the entrance with rocks in 1701.

 

A Memel City Tax Seal of Frederick II, the Great (1740 - 1786)

The Obverse has the monogram FR Fridericus Rex (King Frederic) with

 BUREAU DE MEMEL which is French for MEMEL'S OFFICE.

The Reverse has the Prussian eagle holding sword and sceptre with

 REGIE DES DROITS DU ROI which is French for KING'S RIGHTS.

The French Connection. In 1766, some 350 Frenchmen reached Berlin. They were not the first immigrants to arrive in Prussia, nor were they the last foreigners who contributed to the fascinating rise of the Prussian state over the centuries. The Frenchmen who arrived in the capital in 1766 were different from most of the other immigrants who had passed through the gates of Berlin previously. They were not religious refugees or makers of silk, hats or gloves like many of their compatriots. They were not in the business of making goods but rather in the business of taking them: they were tax administrators. During the following 20 years they created a completely new tax administration for indirect taxes in the Prussian states, commonly known as the Régie. While the new institution had the support of Frederick II, it was also widely criticized: the French tax administrators were perhaps the most controversial public figures in Prussia in the period. The opposition against them remained strong and when Frederick II died in 1786, his successor dismissed the French advisers. However, many of the changes which they had introduced had a lasting impact; the creation of the Régie must count as one of the most important turning points in Prussia’s financial history.

 

The City Arms are used on their own for Driebandt (Threeband) flax in Memel and this could well be the case

for Riga and the other Baltic States ports.

 

Vessel Ship Arrivals and Departures for Memel Cargo
Scotsman 25-01-1831 Arrived Dundee from Memel Flax
Scotia 12-03-1831 Arrived Dundee from Memel Codilla hemp
Sophia Willemina 22-03-1831 Arrived Dundee from Memel Flax
Anne 30-03-1831 Arrived Dundee from Memel Flax
Thomas 25-04-1831 Arrived Dundee from Memel Flax
Constance 26-04-1831 Arrived Dundee from Memel Flax
Eagle 01-05-1831 Arrived Dundee from Memel Flax
Pandora 11-05-1831 Arrived Dundee from Memel Flax
Addison 23-05-1831 Arrived Dundee from Memel Flax
Bellona 23-05-1831 Arrived Dundee from Memel Flax
Scotsman 23-05-1831 Arrived Dundee from Memel Flax
Traveller 04-06-1831 Arrived Dundee from Memel Flax
Thomas 10-06-1831 Arrived Dundee from Memel Flax
Ann 11-06-1831 Arrived Arbroath from Memel Flax
Dundee 16-06-1831 Arrived Dundee from Memel Flax

 

    A petition of the Governor and Fellowship of the Eastland merchants. The ships are the "Endeavour" (Robert Chambers master, with ashes, flax and yarn from Memel)  "Fortune" from Libau, "William and Martha" from Riga and "Unity" from Gavall [Gafle]. Their loadings are not the product of nor have passed through any infected places and they were loaded at places where no infection was at the time of lading. The three ships from Quinsborough [Königsberg] were loaded before any infection was public there and the hemp on board is of the growth and package of Lithuania and the borders of Russland where no infection has been, and though the flax was packed at Quinsborough the labourers that packed it have continued in health ever since and the seamen who received same on board and stowed it do continue in perfect health. As to Mr. Richard Green's memorial the two ships from Memel and Libau arrived early in the spring before any infection was known either at Dantzic or Quinsborough and were laden and sailed before July last and on their arrival in the Sound their men were permitted to go ashore, which was not allowed to others.

 

The PeaceHavens Project

  About PeaceHavens - This database is an ongoing project involving the daily finding and identification of Russian Lead Flax Bale Seals from the old disused 18th/19th century Flax Mills of the Industrial Revolution in the UK.    For many decades in the 18th & 19th centuries, Russia was by far the world's greatest exporter of these flax stems via Archangel, Konigsberg, Kronstadt, Libnau, Memel, Narva, Pernau, Revel, Riga, St Petersburg, Tilsit, Windau and Great Britain was Russia's major customer. Every bale of flax stems was fastened together with a lead seal by a quality control inspector. After retting the discarded stems of the flax with seals still attached were prized as fertilizer by local farmers and were spread onto the land mixed with night soil manure.

Website design and seal translations by Ged Dodd   Director of The PeaceHavens Project.

 

Copyright 2020 © Ged Dodd
aka PeaceHavens Project
Click here for the terms
of free copy & share &
supporting your Project