The two-decked screw steamer Concordia was built for Chargeurs Réunis by Ateliers & Chantiers de la Loire at St. Nazaire in 1889. Intended for the company's main South American route, she was registered at 2,925 tons, measured 320 feet in length with a 40 foot beam, and was powered by one of her builder's own triple expansion 3-cylinder engines.
Founded in 1872, the Compagnie de Chargeurs Réunis (Combined Shippers' Company) of Havre was the sixth French shipping line to establish a transatlantic service to Brazil but expanded rapidly to become the principal operator on that route. Initially serving only Brazil as port facilities in the River Plate and Montevideo and Buenos Aires were not sufficiently developed, the original two ships were joined by a further six in 1873 and, by the late 1870s, the company was dominating the South American trade. It is difficult today to comprehend the importance of that Brazilian trade -- both passenger as well as cargo -- in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The key to this lucrative route was rubber which, until the Brazilian monopoly was eventually broken when rubber saplings were smuggled out for successful cultivation in Malaya, provided the foundation upon which an entire economy was built. The world's demand for this unique material became insatiable as the nineteenth century drew to a close and the rich entrepreneurs of the mid-1880s had been transformed into fabulously wealthy rubber barons before the century was out. The Amazonian city of Manaus, founded in 1848, boasted an opera house worthy of the greatest European capital by 1896 and it was even said that its most prominent citizens sent their shirts to be laundered in Lisbon. This enormous wealth eventually percolated down through most levels of Brazilian society with the result that the carriage of both persons and goods to and from Brazil was, for a time, one of the most profitable shipping routes in the world.