A set of portable manuscript tables for calculating weights and measures in the principal cities of...

A set of portable manuscript tables for calculating weights and measures in the principal cities of Europe, the Mediterranean basin, and Mexico.


Verlag: [Florence?, eighteenth century], 1750
Verkäufer WP Watson Antiquarian Books (London, Vereinigtes Königreich)

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Manuscript on paper, 8 sheets mounted on rectos and versos of four boards edged in orange paper, oblong format, board size 223 x 307 mm, written area 210 x 295 mm, written in an elegant italic hand; two boards each with an additional sliding part for ease of use, a fifth blank board pierced with a hole at centre (one of two intended for carrying?); in fine condition.A rare and visually appealing manuscript tool of commerce, a witness to the adaptation of capitalism to a still parochial world. Until the establishment of the metric system after the French Revolution, the lack of a standard measuring system for size and weight, not only across regional and linguistic borders but even from one city to the next, complicated trade, to say the least. Merchants required reference tools: some were printed, others, of which fewer have been preserved, remained in manuscript.This clever set of tables, devised for a Florentine trader, the Florentine measurements providing the base measures, solved two problems at once: it provides comparative tables giving quick access to equivalent measures between 47 major trading cities (boards 1 and 2 [numbering attributed]), and supplies lists of other cities or geographical entities sharing common measurement systems with those 47 (boards 3 and 4). Rendering the boards even more efficient, the sheets on the rectos and versos of the boards were applied in opposite directions, so that the user needed only flip the board to continue reading. The fine calligraphy of the tables may indicate that they were produced by a scribe, perhaps in quantity, though clearly few survived.Contents:[Board 1:] 'Tavola Reduttoria dei Pesi': in the left-hand vertical column are listed 47 cities (1-23 on the recto and 27-47 on the verso 23). Florence is no. 1: the upper horizontal row contains Florentine weights from 1 to 10 and then by tens to 100. For the other cities listed the numbers provide equivalencies for the Florentine weights. The moveable part (resembling a slide rule) repeats the list of cities, making it easy to compare, for example, 20 Florentine pounds to their equivalent in Paris (13 4/5 livres) as well as the same weight in Mexico and Veracruz (14 3/5 arrobe). Cities listed are mainly European and Mediterranean: Venice, Genoa, Algiers, Nicosia, Alexandria and Cairo, Cadiz, Madrid, Lisbon, Constantinople, Paris, Lyon, London, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Danzig, Breslau, Cologne, Bern, Riga, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Vienna, but also Mexico and Veracruz.[Board 2:] 'Tavola Reduttoria de Grani': a table of grain measurements, by the sack, using the same principles as the weight tables, listing 47 cities, of which about half differ from the cities listed in the table of weights; including towns in Greece and Dalmatia and more Sicilian and Southern Italian towns, as well as different European cities and places (Toulon, Brussels, Dunkirk, Hamburg, Scotland, etc.).[Boards 3 and 4:] 'Città e luoghi corrispondenti ai pesi delle città della tavola reduttoria'; and 'Corrispondenza delle Città e luoghi per le misure de Grani': ruled charts, with 24 fields on each side (the last blank), containing, as headings, the 47 cities or places listed respectively in Boards 1 and 2, followed by the names of towns whose weight / grain measures are the same. Buchnummer des Verkäufers 3784

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Titel: A set of portable manuscript tables for ...

Verlag: [Florence?, eighteenth century]

Erscheinungsdatum: 1750


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