Alain Braastad did a great work: A transcription of letters of a Cognac négociant (merchant), Henry Brunet, living in the middle of the 18th century.
The book consists of a selection of reproduced letters the merchant sent, which gives great insights into time and culture. It’s 574 pages and was given by Jules Pelisson, a lawyer from Cognac, the the Historical Archives of Saintonge in the late 19th century. It includes letters exchanged by trader John Henry Brunet, between the time of 1743 and 1746.
Numbering each letter, listing each recipient, Alain Braastad has accomplished a true labor of passion on a document covering a period of unrest and conflict between France, Spain and England. Apparently it’s the only document which exists for the period.
A careful reading of these letters can teach a lot about the purchase of eaux-de-vie at that time, river navigation, weather, preparing “pipailles”, transport, money transaction, distillation and Cognac trade in general.
It’s all about patience
“In this digital age we have forgotten what time means. Patience for purchases, patience in preparing orders, patiently waiting for the ship that will carry through the ocean eaux-de-vie.”
Alain Braastad himself is a descendant of a long line of Cognac merchants, of a famous old Cognac house in Jarnac.
He is a member of the Academy of Saintonge and a tireless researcher. Alain Braastad is the author of numerous books on Cognac, country, and Protestantism.
Le copie de lettres de Jean Henry Brunet, 1743-1746, négociant à Cognac
The collection of letters of John Henry Brunet, 1743-1746, merchant of Cognac. Book available at 30 € at the Society of Historical Archives of Saintonge.