Scharfenberg, Tolmé & Co.
XI/38/218-19, 4 boxes
The correspondence to 1855 is from Carl Scharfenberg alone [XI/38/217], the former clerk in the Paris House and Rothschild agent in Havana. From 1855 the letters are from Scharfenberg, Tolmé & Co. The majority of the letters are written in German, though there are clusters of English letters, the reason for this being unclear. There are on average two to four letters per month.
Scharfenberg describes in great detail the Cuban sugar business, including forecasts for harvests, the production process, the shipping and the buying of sugar by his firm and competitors. He also covers, in less detail, the tobacco business.
Cuba was a staging post for Mexican silver sent to Europe and Spanish quicksilver sent to Mexico, and these and other business deals are discussed.
Scharfenberg covers political developments only in passing, chiefly speculating on American-Spanish negotiations over Cuba. From 1855 the correspondence becomes very standardised, mostly covering individual financial transactions, and there is less information about the sugar market.
He was popular with the Rothschild family, prompting reports from Alphonse de Rothschild that he, "has done well, more conscientiously and with more concern for business than has been done in New York." (14 January 1849). Tolmé’s own letters are to be found in the Sundry series.