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Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

97: Sugar bowl

Sugar bowl promoting East India sugar ‘not made by slaves’ From the 1780s, the anti-slavery movement encouraged the public to make active choices when shopping, like refusing to purchase products made by ‘slave’ labour. This new ethical capitalism was promoted by objects with political slogans, like this sugar bowl boldly inscribed, ‘East India Sugar not made by Slaves’. In fact, this ‘slave-free’ sugar was made by indentured workers in the British East Indies (now Malaysia) under exploitative conditions for profit by the British East India Company. Nonetheless, the Abolitionist Movement, which succeeded in getting the 1807 Bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade through Parliament, was bolstered by this new ethical consumerism – an early ‘Fair Trade’ movement.

Staffordshire, England, c.1800 – 30

Earthenware with gilt inscription

Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery (Norfolk Museums Service; NWHCM: 1934.37)

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