Acapulco Trade/ Manila Galleon Style


By the third quarter of the 16th century, the colonization of the important parts of Mexico and South America was in full swing. However still fledgling, the colonies were being developed with grand architecture and interiors. The need for new trade routes with new ideas and merchandise were needed to bolster the economy of the Americas as well as that of Europe. Global exploration had revealed civilizations unknown at the time, so the Manila Galleon/Acapulco Trade came into being. Between 1585 and 1820 from Acapulco Bay giant galleons laden with silver, gold, furniture, religious art and artisans from the Americas, left for Manila Bay to seek out merchants in Asia. The Chinese junks would anchor in Manila Bay until the Manila galleons arrived and a month long “trade fair” took place. Boats also arrived from the Portuguese and Dutch colonies in Indonesia and Malaysia, from Japan and as far away as India.

After a robust month of trade, the galleon would depart for the return trip to Acapulco Bay where another month long “trade fair” would take place with merchants arriving from Peru, the Caribbean, Spain, and Portugal. Mexican merchants shipped the luxurious items overland into the populated center of Mexico’s Altiplano. Peru sent a shipment home and the European merchants sent the new exciting unheard of luxuries overland to Veracruz and then on to the Caribbean and Europe by sea.

This Acapulco-Manila trade revived the economy of Europe after the renaissance as well as stimulating the economies of the Americas and Asia. This globalization not only had an economic effect, but also an exciting exchange of new ideas, customs and a mutual influence in the design of furniture, decorative art, and religious iconology.