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La collecte du chiffre au XVIIIe siècle : Le Bureau de la balance du commerce et la production des données sur le commerce extérieur de la France

Abstract : The Bureau de la balance du commerce existed from 1713 to 1791. This paper uses little-known archival sources in Amsterdam, Paris and in Delaware to study the way it collected French external trade data in the midst of numerous institutional changes. The first part examines the evolution of the administrative structure and context of the Bureau. Two periods can be distinguished: the “first Bureau” from 1713 to 1783 and the “new Bureau” from 1783 to 1791. Under diverse administrative arrangements, the Bureau was under the influence of the Ferme générale, the board of trade and the Maritime Secretary. The first Bureau was a small unit that did not cost much. The second Bureau was much more onerous: its costs climbed up to 100,000 livres per year, and as many as fourteen employees worked there. It was also more prestigious. The second part examines how the Bureau collected data on French external trade. The employees of the Ferme générale were always the source for trade data in volume. The chambers of commerce provided the first Bureau with prices. The Ferme générale provided the second Bureau with prices. These prices seem to have followed the general evolution of actual prices. The Bureaux have always treated Alsace, Lorraine and the Trois Évéchés as foreign countries in regard to French trade. The summary documents produced from 1749 onward are comparable. The way the Bureau collected and transformed economic data was not transformed dramatically throughout the century. Hence, as a first approximation, it is possible to use the data it produced as a coherent basis for the study of French external trade.
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Submitted on : Thursday, November 4, 2021 - 11:01:11 PM
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Loïc Charles, Guillaume Daudin. La collecte du chiffre au XVIIIe siècle : Le Bureau de la balance du commerce et la production des données sur le commerce extérieur de la France. Revue d'Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine, Societe D'histoire Moderne et Contemporaine, 2011, pp.128 - 155. ⟨hal-03415523⟩

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