15. Ship and caravan cargo from Syria to Genoa

16. Cargo from Alexandria (Egypt)

17. Register of foreign exchange operations and transfers of Francesco di Marco Datini and his partners in Barcelona

18. Chief accountant Matthäus Schwarz writes to Veit Hörl in Spain. Handwritten entry in the ‘common trade’ copy book (1524–34)

19. Tariffe Mercantili del Levante

20. ‘Re della China’. Compendio di geografia e statistica.

21. Book of accounts and exchange charges marked ‘A’, Del Vernaccia & Arrighi trading firm (1637–39)

22. Merchant’s declaration of the current exchange rates between Dutch and Smirnese coins

23. Journal of the deputation of the ship La Santissima Concezione captained by Sebastien Gay of Marseille

24. Attestatie (general witness testimony) notarial deed, drafted by notary Daniel Bredan

25. Contract between merchant Antonio de Lespaul and Jan Brouwer

26. Transaction for the purchase of silk for export abroad

27. Letter from Hernando de Morales in Lisbon, to Simón Ruiz in Medina del Campo

28. Royal Warrant from the infanta and regent, Juana de Austria

29. Inventarium mercium raubarum recuperatarum a navi naufragato in hoc portu, patronigiata per Joannem Fure

30. An inventory of the brigantino of Antonio Gusman with one bill of lading

31. Register of expenses and profits involved in the maintenance and furnishing of a ship for use in a court appeal

32. Trade fair notebook. Medina del Campo, 17 June 1584 to 7 August 1586

33. Novi Fair scrapbook or blotter (1641–42)

20. ‘Re della China’. Compendio di geografia e statistica.

Biblioteca Riccardiana, Florence
2386, fols 59r–59v, cc. I, 79, II,
GENERAL INFORMATION: Seventeenth century. Manuscript on paper. Bound in parchment.

This anonymous, intriguing document, which the Biblioteca Riccardiana dates to the seventeenth century, can be described as an encyclopaedic database with a global scope. Although its main focus remains on Europe and the Mediterranean, it also has a considerable amount of entries concerning other regions around the world. Probably designed to be used by merchants and/or diplomats, or in the chancellery responsible for foreign relations, the entries contain information on aspects such as the political system of the country in question, its natural resources, religion, the size and nature of its economy, and its military forces. In spite of its modernity as a statistical database of sorts, it still appears tied to more traditional travel accounts and descriptions of the world: it features an entry on ‘Preto Janni’ (i.e., the kingdom ruled by the mythical Prester John), alongside existing regions, countries and cities like America, Tartary and Moscow, among many others. The images we have chosen to display are taken from the section that describes China, which includes information on the size of the country, the number of its cities and fortresses, as well as the size of its economy measured in terms of the tax income levied by its rulers.

(José María Pérez Fernández)

15. Ship and caravan cargo from Syria to Genoa

16. Cargo from Alexandria (Egypt)

17. Register of foreign exchange operations and transfers of Francesco di Marco Datini and his partners in Barcelona

18. Chief accountant Matthäus Schwarz writes to Veit Hörl in Spain. Handwritten entry in the ‘common trade’ copy book (1524–34)

19. Tariffe Mercantili del Levante

20. ‘Re della China’. Compendio di geografia e statistica.

21. Book of accounts and exchange charges marked ‘A’, Del Vernaccia & Arrighi trading firm (1637–39)

22. Merchant’s declaration of the current exchange rates between Dutch and Smirnese coins

23. Journal of the deputation of the ship La Santissima Concezione captained by Sebastien Gay of Marseille

24. Attestatie (general witness testimony) notarial deed, drafted by notary Daniel Bredan

25. Contract between merchant Antonio de Lespaul and Jan Brouwer

26. Transaction for the purchase of silk for export abroad

27. Letter from Hernando de Morales in Lisbon, to Simón Ruiz in Medina del Campo

28. Royal Warrant from the infanta and regent, Juana de Austria

29. Inventarium mercium raubarum recuperatarum a navi naufragato in hoc portu, patronigiata per Joannem Fure

30. An inventory of the brigantino of Antonio Gusman with one bill of lading

31. Register of expenses and profits involved in the maintenance and furnishing of a ship for use in a court appeal

32. Trade fair notebook. Medina del Campo, 17 June 1584 to 7 August 1586

33. Novi Fair scrapbook or blotter (1641–42)