Sugar Making, Hispaniola, late 16th cent.


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Image Reference
LCP-25

Source
Girolamo Benzoni, Americae pars quinta nobilis & admiratione . . . . (Frankfort, 1595), part V, fig. 2. (Copy in Library Company of Philadelphia; also, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-68966)

Comments
Title, "Nigritae exhaustis venis metallicis conficiendo saccharo operam dare debent . . . II." ("The veins of gold ore having been exhausted, the Blacks had to work in sugar"). The woodcut depicts human-powered sugar mill and various phases of sugar manufacture at a very early period. Note, cauldron in left-hand corner for boiling the sugar, and the pots into which the unrefined sugar was placed. This is one of the earliest known illustrations of sugar making in the New World, and is the fanciful depiction of the De Bry brothers, the Flemish engravers (who never visited the New World), based on a brief passage in Benzoni (and, perhaps, other voyagers): "When the natives of this island (Espanola) began to be extirpated, the Spaniards provided themselves with blacks (Mori) from Guinea . . . and they have brought great numbers thence. When there were mines, they made them work at the gold and silver [Benzoni, fig. 1]; but since those came to an end they have increased the sugar-works [Benzoni, fig. 2, above], and in these and in tending the flocks they are chiefly occupied, besides serving their masters in all else" (See History of the New World by Girolamo Benzoni, of Milan. Shewing his travels in America, from A.D. 1541 to 1556 . . . . Now first translated, and edited by Rear-Admiral W.H. Smyth [London: Printed for the Hakluyt Society, 1857; original published in Venice, 1565]. p. 93). For this illustration in color, with the accompanying description in German, see Gereon Sievernich (ed.), America de Bry, 1590-1634: Amerika oder die Neue Welt (Berlin, 1990), p. 189.