period, but their inventories grew as elite demand for Madeira took shape, and they willingly provided new accoutrements of wine-drinking to customers, extended longer credit to storekeepers, and advertised and displayed a variety of wines. A couple of well-situated urban American wine traders even started up a ``franchise system'' of stocking multiple frontier stores with wine. Oceans of Wine is already so richly textured and expansive in its range that we might hesitate to ask for more. Still, Hancock only glancingly brushes some important topics that his analysis of personal networks might have addressed. Readers may wish to know more about how distributors, agents, and customers advanced credit and secured loans; how insurance agents, auctioneers, and wine brokers worked in the interstices of wine trading; how consortia of traders dealt with competition from rivals; or how various parties coped with breeches of trust and reputation. Hancock weaves many fascinating success stories of wine traders, but does not tell us much about how distributors actually filled ships, struck bargains, and reached out to foreign connections. And although we have little reason to doubt that traders and storekeepers ``became savvier in marketing and more adept at drawing and maintaining customers''
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Nov 26, 2010
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