As I research my next book, I am continually drawn into new channels. Everything is interconnected.
When one thinks of the spice trade, we think of the more exotic spice like cinnamon or cardamon. Not lowly pepper. But pepper was extremely valuable. When the Salem merchantmen began sailing east, before they traded in cloth they traded in pepper. Carnes, the first Captain who sailed to Sumatra for pepper, brought home a cargo that made a 700% profit.
The enormous profits continued to the early 1800s, but fell victim to the pirates in the east.
Since pepper was easily portable, the sailors could carry trade something (butter was a big favorite) for a stash of pepper of their own. This could be traded at home for a little profit. In the 1980s, when the ship, The Mary Rose, was raised from the ocean floor, almost every sailor’s corpse carried a supply of pepper. This ship sank in 1545.