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Comptes et profits marchands


d'Europe et d'Amériques, 1650-1850


Merchant accounting and profits

in Europe and the Americas, 1650-1850


Conférence internationale, Paris 8, 9 et 10 juin 2011




Ways and means of trading in the "Age of Commerce"

      This conference aims at producing a better understanding of the construction and operation of commercial activity at a time when it became the engine of European colonial expansion across the Atlantic and much of the rest of the world. Upon close examination, the theoretical tools of modern economics do not easily apply to trade in the Early Modern Era.

     We will try to follow up on recent and innovative directions of research, such as the reconceptualization of profit as a qualitative rather than quantitative assessment linked to credit and reputation, and of interpersonal networks as strategically built means of access to credit and tools of risk-avoidance, the exploration of both economic and non-economic constraints on discrete exchanges as well as the narratives used to legitimize these constraints, or the analysis of the way in which product quality scales, in spite of the fuzziness of their vocabulary, interact with the instituional framework of quality control set up by Early Modern States. We hope to achieve an overview of the strategic and tactical choices of the actors of the time, by confronting all available sources, from account books to correspondence...

Entrance free, no registration fee


Papers can be download

     Some contributors asked for password protection of their papers; persons interested in participating in the conference can request the password information by contacting [formulaire de contact conférence]



  • Mercredi 8 Juin

University of Chicago Center in Paris, 6 Rue Thomas Mann, 75013



09h30-12h30 : De la nature du profit / On the nature of profit

(Président de séance/Chair : Simon Middleton)

D. Margairaz (U. Paris 1) : Pourquoi commercer des marchandises ?

S. Haggerty (U. Nottingham) : Business Culture in the British-Atlantic, 1750-1815

A. Dubé (Omohundro Inst.) : Profit for a King

A. Bartolomei (U. Nice) : La dépersonnalisation de la relation de commerce aux XVIIIe et XIXe siècles.




14h30-18h00 :  L'économie de plantations / The plantation economy

(Président de séance/Chair : Simon Smith)




  • Jeudi 9 Juin

Reid Hall, 4 rue de Chevreuse, 75006 Paris


09h30-13h00 : La circulation de l'information / Information flows

(Président de séance/Chair ; Jochen Hoock)




14h30-18h00 : Une économie de réseaux ? / A networked economy ?

(Président de séance/Chair : Serge Chassagne)      




  • Vendredi 10 Juin

Reid Hall, 4 rue de Chevreuse, 75006 Paris



09h30-12h30 : Compter et évaluer / Counting and valuing

(Président de séance/Chair : Cheryl McWatters)



14h30-17h30 : Les outils des transactions / The tools of transactions

(Président de séance/Chair : Robert S. DuPlessis)

T. Vanneste (Netherlands) : Networks of Credit and Commercial Society: An Empirical Analysis

K. Waterman (Netherlands) : Practicalities and Motivations in the Intercultural Fur Trade in Colonial New York ; Evidence from Two Trade Ledgers in Dutch, 1695-1732

J. Villain (U. Paris 1) : Le recouvrement de créances chez trois marchands lorrains au XVIIIe siècle

V. Santarosa (Yale U.) : The Joint Liability  Rule and Bills of Exchange in 18th-c. France