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The Chartered Mercantile Bank is one of the constituent banks of the huge Hongkong and Shanghai bank. This study charts its first 40 years as one of the pioneering banks of the Far East. The Chartered Mercantile became the leading exchange bank in India and South East Asia whilst always retaining its head office in the pivotal London market. Based upon meticulous research using a particularly rich set of banking archives, the book describes the complex political and financial circumstances on the subcontinent during the bank's early years and introduces the personalities in the Indian business and London banking worlds who guided the infant institution. The volatility of local markets is analysed, with portraits of the banks and merchant houses which did not survive the many financial crises in the East also included. This book will do much to remedy the lack of existing research into international finance, and Eastern banking in particular, in the 19th century. It provides an inside view of the workings of an Eastern bank - the nature of its business, methods of payment and exchange, recruitment and career patterns of staff, and includes valuable new material on the role of European bankers in an eastern setting.