King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
‘A brighter Hellas’: rediscovering Greece in the 19th century

Exports from the Islands

Articles exported from the Ionian Islands to England, 1857 to 1861Articles exported from the Ionian Islands to England, 1857 to 1861In 1863 the British decided to return the Ionian Islands to Greece, as a gesture of support for Otho’s successor, King George I, and the seven islands were ceded in 1864.

David Thomas Ansted (1814-80), a former professor of geology at King’s College London, decided to visit the islands in 1863, keen to experience them before their handover to Greece, and ‘to judge in some measure what England had done, how far she had fulfilled the responsible office she had undertaken, and what was the probability of her plans being carried out.’

Ansted published this extensive account of his observations covering all aspects of Ionian life, including the manners and customs of the people, and the physical geography and geology of the islands.

The table on display outlines the articles exported from the Ionian Islands to England from the years 1857 to 1861, including corn (maize), currants, olive oil, fustic (a yellow dye extracted from the wood of the fustic trees), and valonia (dried acorn-cups and acorns containing tannin used for tanning and dyeing).

Ansted notes that the high export duty on Ionian produce resulted in a significant amount of smuggling. Corfu produced considerable quantities of olive oil, exported to the East, while Cephalonia and Zante were the major producers of currants, exported mainly to England and the United States and also to Germany. British cookery books of the time, such as Mrs Beeton’s Book of household management (1859-61), were filled with recipes using currants in jams and all kinds of cakes, including mince pies and Christmas puddings.

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