Saturday 15 April 2023
14.00 - 16.00
Accounting for Consumption – Account Books and the Temporal and Spatial Settings of Early Modern Consumption
Bruno Blondé, Kristine Dyrmann :
Managing Count and Countess von Scheel’s Consumption in Copenhagen and at Gammel Estrup Manor House, c. 1754-1772
The count and countess von Scheel of Gammel Estrup manor house in mid-eighteenth-century Denmark have left behind a unique collection of account books, bills and receipts, offering an insight into the everyday life and networks of suppliers surrounding their country house as well as their town house residence in the ... (Show more)
The count and countess von Scheel of Gammel Estrup manor house in mid-eighteenth-century Denmark have left behind a unique collection of account books, bills and receipts, offering an insight into the everyday life and networks of suppliers surrounding their country house as well as their town house residence in the capital of Copenhagen. Through more than 20 years of receipted bills and several years’ estate accounts, the seasonal routines of the count and countess and their household can be discerned: Repeated travel accounts show a cyclical pattern of moving each autumn from the Scheel family seat at Gammel Estrup, located on the Djursland peninsula, to Copenhagen, where the count and countess would participate in life at the Danish court. Half a year later, by the end of April, they would settle their bills in the capital and move back to their country house.
Combining receipted bills from both locations with estate accounts and correspondence, this paper will explore the count and countess’ practices of consumption in the capital and the country side. The paper thus uncovers their connections with local and international suppliers, and the responsibilities and practices of the house staff in everyday life at the estate. The accounts were managed by Jens Lund, the house steward, but many other rural and urban actors emerge from the receipts, ranging from the laundry maid Elena Hørups, a widow who lived in the nearby village of Liltved, to countess Scheel’s preferred French milliners in Copenhagen, Les frères Martin. Discussing the everyday consumption of the Scheel household and how it was recorded by the house steward, the paper opens a window to household hierarchies, as well as to the spatial and material practices of the count and countess and their employees. (Show less)
Johanna Ilmakunnas :
Accounting Across and Over Generations: Life-cycle Perspective on Elite Consumption in Eighteenth-century Sweden
In eighteenth-century Sweden, the counts von Fersen employed from the 1730s to 1810s two accountants after each other, from 1737 to 1777 Lars Pagander and after him Eric Nortun. They worked in the family von Fersen’s office together with at least one bookkeeper and a male servant, overseeing a large ... (Show more)
In eighteenth-century Sweden, the counts von Fersen employed from the 1730s to 1810s two accountants after each other, from 1737 to 1777 Lars Pagander and after him Eric Nortun. They worked in the family von Fersen’s office together with at least one bookkeeper and a male servant, overseeing a large complex of estates, properties and shares. Pagander and his successor Nortun managed the family von Fersen’s landed estates, entrepreneurial endeavours and household accounts across generations both vertically and horizontally. The Fersen account books cover three generations, and this paper focuses on the families of three siblings, born in the 1710s. The accounts together with receipted bills give us a rich account on private consumption of the count and countess von Fersen and changes over time, from unmarried status to married with children and to the old age; on management of the household in Stockholm and on a number of country houses the family owned; and on the change over time and space.
The paper looks into consumption patterns in the households of the counts von Fersen, their wives, children and servants. Taking at life-cycle approach, the paper explores the cyclical patterns of consumption of two brothers and their sister, all married with children, from the 1730s to the 1790s. The paper discusses how age, gender and possible career as courtier (men and women), as officer (men) or as politician (men, supported by women) reflects consumption and material culture on a level of an individual, a couple or a household, and how these personal and professional ambitions entangle with stages of life, and how these patterns are communicated through account books. (Show less)
Britta Kägler :
Accounting for Pleasure: Counting and Managing Expenditures of Cultural Court Life (1650-1750)
This paper will address expenditure on music and theatre as part of the courtly economy of Bavarian electors in the early modern period. In this way, insights will be gained into the materiality of a primarily ephemeral art, indeed, an ephemeral form of consumption. At the same time, a look ... (Show more)
This paper will address expenditure on music and theatre as part of the courtly economy of Bavarian electors in the early modern period. In this way, insights will be gained into the materiality of a primarily ephemeral art, indeed, an ephemeral form of consumption. At the same time, a look at the 18th century shows that musical performances at small aristocratic courts and country estates were a central element of ruler representation, just as opera was at the great European courts.
Firstly, a brief overview will be given of how bookkeeping was organized at the Munich court in the second half of the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century. Were there concrete guidelines? Was there internal control? Secondly, account books and salary schedules are to be evaluated for expenditure on theatre, ballet and opera.
This focus is related to the fact that operas were not only performed for princely weddings, birthdays or during carnival period, but also on the occasion of new political alliances or to celebrate successful peace negotiations at the European courts. The expense correlated strikingly with the political significance of the celebrated event. For the Munich court, for example, it can be clearly traced that operas were at the top of a 'system of courtly festive forms' and that they were a crucial resource of symbolic power for the entire court. Against this backdrop, the results of the first random samples are surprising: Contrary to what the motto of "conspicuous consumption" would suggest, spending on musical performances is strictly limited. There are indications of targeted recycling of costumes, stage sets and repair measures in order to save costs. At the ESSHC, a broad analysis of the Munich account books will be discussed. The focus will be on regularly recurring expenditure peaks (e.g. seasonal, genre- or occasion-related), as well as on the links between accounting records and salary schedules: What was the relationship between expenditure on materials and objects and expenditure on personnel (singers, actors, etc.)? (Show less)