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In 1717, free navigation was proclaimed for the Adriatic Sea, in 1719 Trieste was proclaimed a free port, in 1818 the first steamer sailed in the Adriatic, while in 1829 Ressel's tests were carried out in the ship Civetta – the first screw-propeller driven steamer. In the second quarter of the 19th century, shipbuilding, shipping and insurance companies received a strong and decisive impetus, which was enabled by commercial activities that encouraged traffic and distribution of wealth and made way for new ambitious projects.

In the 19th century, maritime enterprise became one of the most promising businesses in Trieste and Rijeka; hence, there was no lack of capital that some were prepared to invest in this business. Slovenians, too, were investing capital – by themselves or together with partners – in the purchase of ships or stocks from shipping lines, doing their utmost to become successful in this new branch of economy. Among them were: Danijel Polak from Trieste, Nikolaj Valušnik, Marija, Leopold and Valentin Dolenc, Matej Gasser from Škofja Loka (he worked in Rijeka), Franc Jelovšek from Vrem na Krasu, Anton and his son Peter Mašera from the village under Mt Krn, the Miklavčič family (Jožef, Ivan, Emilija) and many others, who were the owners and co-owners of sailing ships and steamers later on. A prominent figure in this respect was also Henrik Angel Jazbec who was, until 1911, the owner of the sailing ship Beechdale, the last merchant sailing ship in the Austrian state. One of the most important families in this business in Trieste and Rijeka was certainly the Kalister-Gorup family from Slavina; Josip Gorup is in fact considered the wealthiest Slovenians of all times. Some among the aforementioned people were even members of chambers of commerce and industry for Trieste in Rijeka, which certainly speaks of their important role and high position in the society.

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