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The opium clipper Water Witch (1831).

The opium clipper Water Witch (1831).
Opium clipper Water Witch (1831).
© National Maritime Museum, London
Repro ID: PW7719
Description: Before the early 18th century, the East India Company paid for its tea mainly in silver. However, when the price of silver rose, the East India Company began to manufacture a product that was desired by the Chinese as much as tea was by the British: opium. This had a significant influence on both India and China. Opium was also imported into Britain and was not prohibited because it was thought to be medically beneficial. Laudanum, which was made from opium was also used as a pain killer, to induce sleep and to suppress anxiety. The famous literary opium addicts Thomas De Quincey, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Wilkie Collins also took it for its pleasurable effects. The Limehouse area in London was notorious for its opium dens, many of which catered for Chinese sailors as well as English addicts.
Creator: Unknown
Date: 18th century
Credit line: National Maritime Museum, London
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National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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