Ledgers (account books)
Early works to 1800
||House of Medici; Vincenzo de' Medici; Philip, King of Spain
||Manuscript, Internet resource
||Book, Archival Material, Internet Resource
Title supplied by cataloger.
Pagination: Paper, 48; versos numbered 1-30, [31-48], contemporary pagination in ink, modern pagination in pencil, upper left verso; rectos numbered [i], 1-30, [31-47], contemporary pagination in ink, modern pagination in pencil, upper right recto. Each opening has matched numerals on both sides.
Layout: Written in 2 columns with vertical bounding lines in lead; the large central column with the a brief description of the transaction, including the name of the counterparts involved in the transaction, and the smaller one on the right with the amount received or disbursed. Sometimes 3 columns or long lines are also used.
Script: Written in a cursive script, perhaps by multiple hands.
Binding: Modern cloth.
Origin: Written in Florence between 1606 (f. 1v) and 1609 (f. 15v).
Forms part of: Gondi-Medici Business Records.
||48 leaves : paper ; 335 x 225 mm. bound to 347 x 234 mm. + 1 note.
Ledger of accounts of Vincenzo de' Medici for the years 1606-1609. Often includes the nature of a given transaction and its amount, as well as listing the names of the individuals that act as counterparts in the transaction. The first kind of transaction that appears in the ledger is related to the sale or purchase of textile products (usually silk). The number of these transactions is relatively small. A much larger group of accounts is related to debts and credits with the Spanish crown, which relied heavily on foreign funds (especially Florentine and Genoese) to support their military campaigns. The Medici were one of the families of bankers and financiers who made frequent and large short-term loans to the Spanish kings. Together with liquid funds, large amounts of silver (of varying degrees of pureness and refinement) were also exchanged, traded or loaned to the Spanish crown, probably using bills of exchange. A bill of exchange is a written order by one person to his bank to pay the bearer a specific sum on a specific date. Some merchants, including Vincenzo de' Medici, purchased many bills of exchange from various counterparts to hedge the risk of the transactions, and made money betting on the difference of prices of the same asset (in this case currencies and commodities such as gold and silver) which occurred on different markets. In addition to that, some of the transactions recorded in the ledger that occurred between the Medici and the Spanish were brokered by Italian third parties (possibly Genoese) to receive the best price. Vincenzo de' Medici, in charge of the Florentine mint, had the advantage of being able to access a large volume of liquid funds and precious commodities, which resulted in the opportunity to create a diversified portfolio containing some of the most sought after financial products. Probably other financial instruments were also traded, perhaps some whose underlying assets (commodities, but currencies could also be used) were to be physically delivered at a slightly later date, as bills of exchange tend to work well for short-term transactions only; the complexity of the records in the ledger suggest transactions that are likely more complicated than simple bills of exchange.