Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Becoming a Correspondent: The Foundations of New Merchant Relationships in Early Modern French Trade (1730–1820)

  • ARNAUD BARTOLOMEI (a1), CLAIRE LEMERCIER (a2), VIERA REBOLLEDO-DHUIN (a3) and NADÈGE SOUGY (a4)

Abstract

This article discusses the relational and rhetorical foundations of more than 300 first letters sent in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries by merchant or banking houses based in Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Americas to two prominent French firms: Roux Brothers and Greffulhe Montz & Cie. We used a quantitative analysis of qualitative aspects of first letters to go beyond the standard opposition between premodern personal exchanges and modern impersonal transactions. The expansion of commercial networks during the period under analysis is often believed to have relied on families and ethnic networks and on explicit recommendations worded in the formulas prescribed in merchant manuals. However, most first letters did not use such resources. In many cases, commercial operations began thanks to a mutual acquaintance but without a formal recommendation. This was in fact the norm in the eighteenth century—and an underestimated foundation of the expansion of European commercial networks. In the early nineteenth century, this norm became less prevalent: it was replaced by diverse relational and rhetorical strategies, from recommendations to prospective letters dispensing with any mention of relationships. Whether before or after 1800, the relational and rhetorical resources displayed in letters did not systematically influence the sender’s chances of becoming a correspondent; instead, they depended on the receiving firm’s commercial strategy.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Becoming a Correspondent: The Foundations of New Merchant Relationships in Early Modern French Trade (1730–1820)
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Becoming a Correspondent: The Foundations of New Merchant Relationships in Early Modern French Trade (1730–1820)
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Becoming a Correspondent: The Foundations of New Merchant Relationships in Early Modern French Trade (1730–1820)
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

Footnotes

Hide All

This article is part of a wider research project, Fiduciae, funded by the French National Agency for Research, and led by Arnaud Bartolomei (see http://cmmc-nice.fr/recherches-2/programmes-finances-2/fiduciae/). Other members of the Fiduciae team, along with the authors, directly participated in the collection of the data from archival material. The authors thank Thierry Allain, Marguerite Martin, Thomas Mollanger, Matthieu de Oliveira, and Sylvie Vabre for this contribution. The authors wish to thank the anonymous reviewers; as well as the participants of Fiduciae workshops in Paris, Lille, and Nice; in the Center for the Sociology of Organizations and Laboratoire de recherche historique Rhône-Alpes/Triangle seminars; and in the Toulouse Business School conference, “Networks and Finance in the Long Term”; and especially Guillaume Calafat, Veronica Aoki Santarosa, Alina Surubaru, and Francesca Trivellato for helpful comments. Valentine Leys-Legoupil provided excellent English editing.

Footnotes

References

Hide All
Angiolini, Franco, and Roche, Daniel, eds. Cultures et formations négociantes dans l’Europe moderne . Paris: Éditions de l’EHESS, 1995.
Antonetti, Guy. Une maison de banque à Paris au XVIIIe siècle, Greffulhe Montz et Cie (1789–1793). Paris: Éd. Cujas, 1963.
Brée, Paul. Traité de correspondance commerciale, contenant des modèles et des formules épistolaires pour tous les cas qui se présentent dans les opérations de commerce, avec des notions générales et particulières sur leur emploi. Leipzig: Librairie de Baumgartner, 1850.
Carrière, Charles. Négociants marseillais au XVIIIe siècle: contribution à l’étude des économies maritimes. 2 vol. Marseille: Institut historique de Provence, 1973.
Chandler, Alfred D. The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business. Cambridge, MA.: Belknap Press, 1977.
Chapman, Stanley. The Rise of Merchant Banking. London: G. Allen and Unwin, 1984.
Clément, Marie. L’art de la correspondance commerciale, précédé d’un traité de style épistolaire et suivi d’un vocabulaire des termes du commerce. Paris: Clément, 1870.
Da Silva, José Gentil. Marchandises et finances. Lettres de Lisbonne, 1563–1578. Paris: SEVPEN, 1959.
Degranges, Edmond. Traité de correspondance commerciale. Paris: Langlois et Leclercq, 1866.
Fontaine, Laurence. The Moral Economy. Poverty, Credit and Thrust in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Gervais, Pierre, Lemarchand, Yannick, and Margairaz, Dominique, eds. Merchants and Profit in the Age of Commerce, 1680–1830. London: Pickering & Chatto Publishers, 2014.
Haggerty, Sheryllynne. The British-Atlantic Trading Community 1760–1810. Men, Women and the Distribution of Goods. Leiden: Brill, 2006.
Haggerty, Sheryllynne. “Merely for Money”? Business Culture in the British Atlantic, 1750–1815. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2012.
Hirsch, Jean-Pierre. Les deux rêves du commerce. Entreprise et institution dans la région lilloise, 1780–1860. Paris: Éditions de l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, 1991.
Jones, Geoffrey. Merchants to Multinationals. British Trading Companies in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Kessler, Amalia D. A Revolution in Commerce: The Parisian Merchant Court and the Rise of Commercial Society in Eighteenth-Century France. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007.
Lamikiz, Xabier. Trade and Trust in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World: Spanish Merchants and Their Overseas Networks. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 2010.
Lüthy, Herbert. La banque protestante en France, de la révocation de l’Edit de Nantes à la Révolution. Tome II : De la Banque aux Finances (1730–1794). Paris: S.E.V.P.E.N, 1961.
Margairaz, Dominique, and Minard, Philippe, eds. L’information économique XVIe-XIXe siècle: journées d’études du 21 juin 2004 et du 25 avril 2006. Paris: Comité pour l’histoire économique et financière de la France, 2008.
Marzagalli, Silvia. Bordeaux et les États-Unis, 1776–1815. Politique et stratégies négociantes dans la genèse d’un réseau commercial. Geneva: Droz, 2015.
Matringe, Nadia. La Banque en Renaissance. Les Salviati et la place de Lyon au milieu du XVIe siècle. Rennes, France: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2016.
North, Douglass C. Understanding the Process of Economic Change. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.
Trivellato, Francesca. The Familiarity of Strangers: The Sephardic Diaspora, Livorno, and Cross-Cultural Trade in the Early Modern Period. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.
Vanneste, Tijl. Global Trade and Commercial Networks: Eighteenth-Century Diamond Merchants. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011.
Vázquez de Prada, Valentín. Lettres marchandes d’Anvers. Paris: SEVPEN, 1960.
Bartolomei, Arnaud. “La publication de l’information commerciale à Marseille et Cadix (1780-1820). La fin des réseaux marchands?Rives méditerranéennes, no. 27 (2007): 85108.
Bartolomei, Arnaud. “Les réseaux négociants de trois maisons huguenotes de Cadix, à la fin du XVIIIe siècle : des réseaux languedociens, protestants ou français?Liame, no. 25 (2012): online.
Bartolomei, Arnaud, Éloire, Fabien, Lemercier, Claire, de Oliveira, Matthieu, and Sougy, Nadège. “L’encastrement des relations entre marchands en France (1750–1850). Une révolution dans le monde du commerce?Annales HSS 72, no. 2 (2017): 425460 (English version forthcoming).
Bartolomei, Arnaud, and Lemercier, Claire. “Travelling Salesmen as Agents of Modernity in France (18th to 20th Centuries).” Zeitschrift für Unternehmensgeschichte /Journal of Business History 59, no. 2 (2014): 135153.
Buchnea, Emily. “Networks and Clusters in Business History.” In The Routledge Companion to Business History, edited by Wilson, John F., Toms, Steven, de Jong, Abe, and Buchnea, Emily, 259-273. London: Routledge, 2017.
Buti, Gilbert. “Marseille, la péninsule Ibérique et les empires américains (1659–1793). ‘Le soleil des affaires se lève aussi à l’Ouest.’” Revue d’histoire maritime, no. 13 (2011): 211232.
Chamboredon, Robert. “Toutes antennes déployées. Les enseignements de la correspondance des frères Fornier entre Nîmes et Cadix (1748-1786).” Rives méditerranéennes, no. 27 (2007): 6584.
Delobette, Édouard. Ces ‘Messieurs du Havre.’ Négociants, commissionnaires et armateurs de 1680 à 1830. PhD dissertation, History, Université de Caen, 2005.
Ditz, Toby L.Formative Ventures: Eighteenth-Century Commercial Letters and the Articulation of Experience.” In Epistolary Selves. Letters and Letter-Writers, 1600–1945, edited by Earle, Rebecca, 5978. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 1999.
Ditz, Toby L. “Secret Selves, Credible Personas: The Problematics of Trust and Public Display in the Writing of Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia Merchants.” In Possible Pasts: Becoming Colonial in Early America, edited by George, Robert Blair St., 219242. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000.
Forestier, Albane. “Risk, Kinship and Personal Relationships in Late Eighteenth-Century West Indian Trade: The Commercial Network of Tobin & Pinney.” Business History 52, no. 6 (2010): 912931.
Gervais, Pierre. “Early Modern Merchant Strategies and the Historicization of Market Practices.” Economic Sociology: The European Electronic Newsletter 15, no. 3 (2014): 1929.
Gervais, Pierre. “Mercantile Credit and Trading Rings in the Eighteenth Century.” Annales HSS 67, no. 4 (2012): 731763.
Granovetter, Mark S.The Strength of Weak Ties.” American Journal of Sociology 78 no. 6 (1973): 13601380.
Grossetti, Michel. “Réseaux sociaux et ressources de médiation dans l’activité économique.” Sciences de la société, no. 73 (2008): 83104.
Hancock, David. “The Trouble with Networks: Managing the Scots’ Early-Modern Madeira Trade.” Business History Review 79, no. 3 (2005): 467491.
Lambert, Anne. Écritures du commerce. La correspondance au fondement des transactions Ruiz-Bonvisi, 1580–1590. PhD dissertation, École des Chartes, 2010.
Lamikiz, Xabier. “Social Capital, Networks and Trust in Early Modern Long-Distance Trade: A Critical Appraisal.” In Merchants and Trade Networks in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, 1550–1800: Connectors of Commercial Maritime Systems, edited by Sánchez, Manuel Herrero and Kaps, Klemens, 3961. London: Routledge, 2016.
Lamoreaux, Naomi, and Rosenthal, Jean-Laurent. “Legal Regime and Business’s Organizational Choice: A Comparison of France and the United States During the Era of Industrialization.” American Law and Economics Review 7 (2005): 2861.
Lemercier, Claire. “Formal Network Methods in History: Why and How?” In Social Networks, Political Institutions, and Rural Societies, edited by Fertig, Georg, 281310. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers, 2015.
Llorca-Jaña, Manuel. “Shaping Globalization: London’s Merchant Bankers in the Early Nineteenth Century.” Business History Review 88, no. 3 (2014): 469495.
Lupo, Sébastien. “La prudence et le réseau. Permanence et rôle de la méfiance dans le fonctionnement de la régie Garavaque et Cusson de Smyrne (1759–1772).” Tracés, no. 31 (2016): 129148.
Lupo, Sébastien. Révolution(s) d’échelles: Le marché levantin et la crise du commerce marseillais au miroir des maisons Roux et de leurs relais à Smyrne (1740–1787) . PhD dissertation, History, Aix-Marseille Université, 2015.
Marzagalli, Silvia. “Establishing Transatlantic Trade Networks in Time of War: Bordeaux and the United States, 1793–1815.” Business History Review 79, no. 4 (2005): 811844.
McCusker, John J. “The Demise of Distance: The Business Press and the Origins of the Information Revolution in the Early Modern Atlantic World.” American Historical Review 110, no. 2 (2005): 295321.
Morgan, Kenneth. “Business Networks in the British Export Trade to North America, 1750–1800.” In The Early Modern Atlantic Economy, edited by McCusker, John J. and Morgan, Kenneth, 3662. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Pearson, Robin, and Richardson, David. “Business Networking in the Industrial Revolution.” Economic History Review 54, no. 4 (2001): 657679.
Popp, Andrew. “Building the Market: John Shaw of Wolverhampton and Commercial Travelling in Early Nineteenth-Century England.” Business History 49, no. 3 (2007): 321347.
Ribeiro, Ana Sofia. “The Evolution of Norms in Trade and Financial Networks in the First Global Age: The Case of Simon Ruiz’s Network.” In Beyond Empires. Global, Self-Organizing, Cross-Imperial Networks, 1500–1800, edited by Antunes, Cátia and Polónia, Amélia, 1240. Leiden: Brill, 2016.
Surubaru, Alina. “Les producteurs roumains de l’habillement à la recherche de clients: une analyse sociologique des rencontres d’affaires.” Sociologie du Travail 54, no. 4 (2012): 457474.
Uzzi, Brian. “Social Structure and Competition in Interfirm Networks: The Paradox of Embeddedness.” Administrative Science Quarterly 42, no. 1 (1997): 3567.
Van Young, Eric. “Social Networks: A Final Comment.” In Redes y negocios globales en el mundo ibérico, siglos 16–18, edited by Bötcher, Niklaus, Hausberger, Bernd, and Ibarra, Antonio, 289309. México: El Colegio de México, 2011.
Wilson, John F., and Popp., AndrewBusiness Networking in the Industrial Revolution: Some Comments.” Economic History Review 56, no. 2 (2003): 355361.

Becoming a Correspondent: The Foundations of New Merchant Relationships in Early Modern French Trade (1730–1820)

  • ARNAUD BARTOLOMEI (a1), CLAIRE LEMERCIER (a2), VIERA REBOLLEDO-DHUIN (a3) and NADÈGE SOUGY (a4)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed