Pierre Gervais, Yannick Lemarchand, Dominique Margairaz (eds.), Merchants and Profit in the Age of Commerce 1680-1830, Londres, Pickering & Chatto, coll. Perspectives in Economic and Social History, 2014, 256 p.
Merchant activity across Europe, America and China was vital to economic growth during the long eighteenth century. Using a unique data set from accounts and correspondence, contributors show the fragmented nature of merchant activity and the importance of trust-based social and cultural networks. Case studies from the ‘Age of Commerce’ include Franco-British attempts to recall Chinese debt in 1779–80, the price signals between Spain and colonial South America and the risk avoidance strategies of tobacco-planters in early national period America.
Introduction: The Many Scales of Merchant Profit: Accounting for Norms, Practices and Results in the Age of Commerce – Pierre Gervais, Yannick Lemarchand and Dominique Margairaz
Part I: Understanding Merchant Transactions
1 The Current Account as Cognitive Artefact: Stories and Accounts of la Maison Chaurand – Yannick Lemarchand, Cheryl McWatters and Laure Pineau-Defois
2 Why Profit and Loss Didn’t Matter: The Historicized Rationality of Early Modern Merchant Accounting – Pierre Gervais
Part II: The Credit Nexus and its Pitfalls
3 Terms of Payment in Retailing: A Tool for Fostering Customer Loyalty or a Form of Managerial Constraint? A Few Observations Based on Accounts from Lorraine in the Eighteenth-Century – Julien Villain, translated from the French by Darla Rudy-Gervais
4 The Wing of a Butterfly: Private Creditor Strategies in the ‘Chinese Debts’ Crisis of 1779–80 – Frederic Grant, Jr
Part III: Beyond Price Signals: The Institutional Framework
5 The Transatlantic Flow of Price Information in the Spanish Colonial Trade, 1680–1820 – Xabier Lamikiz
6 Product Quality and Merchant Transactions: Product Lines and Hierarchies in the Accounts and Letters of the Gradis Merchant House – Dominique Margairaz, translated from the French by Darla Rudy-Gervais
Part IV: Diversification and Risk Management
7 The Pinet Family in Gap and their Business Relations, 1785–1816: Official Activities and the Issue of Commercial Risk – Boris Deschanel, translated from the French by Darla Rudy-Gervais
8 ‘The Way to Make a Huge Fortune, Easily and without Risk’: Economic Strategy and Tactics among Tobacco-South Planters in the Early National United States – Steven Sarson
Conclusion: Reorienting Early Modern Economic History: Merchant Economy, Merchant Capitalism and the Age of Commerce – Robert DuPlessis