Report on the 7th Regular Meeting of the Research Seminar on International Trade History


a) Date/Time: Friday, May 14, 1999 13:30-17:30
Location: The University of Tokyo Bungakubu Annexe


b) Program: After an announcement concerning the reports to be given, INOUE Mitsuko reported on "The Sound Toll in Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Denmark" and TAKAMATSU Yoichi on "Ottoman Archival Materials on International Trade from the 16th to the Early 19th Century." A question and answer period followed these reports.


c) Participants: 16 members of the Research Seminar and 8 registered IAS members


d) Summary of Report by Mitsuko INOUE :

"The Sound Toll in Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Denmark"

Due to the prosperity of Dutch trade beginning in the 16th century, the trade routes which linked the Baltic Sea with Western Europe played an important role in international trade. Oresund (Sound) Strait, which was the doorway to Baltic Sea trade, had been under the rule of the King of Denmark since the Middle Ages and starting in 1429, a sound toll was placed on ships passing through the strait. Due to the collection of this sound toll, there are many records in Denmark concerning the passage of ships and their cargo. Particularly from the late 16th century until the mid 19th century when the sound toll ceased to be collected, there are a large number of historical documents which consist of the records for each year. The statistics until 1783 are printed in the "Sound Toll Ledger" which has been used as a source of valuable data for analyses in the field of European Economic History.

However, many problems have been pointed out with the contents of this ledger. Because information on the same ships has differred in other customs toll records and port departure records, it is clear that the data in this ledger contains inaccuracies.

This report was aimed to clarify tax collection system including customs at the time in Denmark, with special focus on the historical sequence of events surrounding the sound toll, within the larger picture of modern Danish history. First, the influence that the complex power relationships surrounding Baltic trade had on the sound toll was explained, and the way in which the economically powerful countries, particularly Holland, acted in relation to the sound toll was clarified.

Further, other issues were pointed out such as how customs in the Sound Strait was organized, the discovery of errors in the customs tax records, and the fact that the cargo of many of the ships was never actually inspected.


e) Summary of Report by Yoichi TAKAMATSU :

"Ottoman Archival Materials on International Trade from the 16th to the Early 19th Century"

This report examined the availability of historical records and manuscripts of the Ottoman Empire from the 16th to early 19th centuries, and discussed their usefulness in the study of international trade history. The historical periods studied were limited in this way because historical records of the 15th century and earlier are rare, and in the mid 19th century, historical records decreased drastically due to a series of revolutions. Although many of the papers available are letters from one individual to another expressing the writer's thoughts, there are also accounting records and individual reports. An overwhelming number of these primary historical sources from the Ottoman Period are public documents, and there are very few private documents remaining. For this reason, most of these documents and records were created, issued or received by the central government or local governments and there are very few records or correspondence by businessmen involved in international trade. Currently, documents and historical records kept by the central government during the Ottoman Period are in Turkey and Bulgaria and those kept by local organizations are preserved by historical repositories in the former Ottoman-ruled areas. Among the documents dealing with international trade, although there are some which deal with the activities of foreign businessmen in Ottoman ruled areas, most deal with Ottoman trade policies. It is therefore difficult to form a clear picture of the actual trade activity. Also, because many of the historical materials related to customs are those related to tax collection contracts and use of customs revenue, they are not helpful in grasping the actual conditions of international trade at the time. However, these Ottoman Period documents and records are not without value in the study of international trade history. Looking at the materials themselves as physical objects, we can see from the watermarks that public documents during the Ottoman Period were mostly printed on paper manufactured in Europe, most commonly in Italy. While the watermarks on the paper give us information concerning the producers of the paper, the writing on the paper tells us the date and location where the document or record was made. Concerning the trade of paper in the Eastern Mediterranean, it can be said that there are no better historical materials than the actual paper used for documents and records during the Ottoman Period.

(Report by FUKUSAWA Katsumi)