Sunday, May 3, 2009

A brief history of Genoa

View of Genoa, Italy, around 1490As il mio amico ml discovered the other day, all the roads may have once led to Rome, but they certainly start from Genoa. Giuseppe Felloni, Guido Laura - Genova e la storia della finanza: una serie di primati? / Genoa and the history of finance: A series of firsts? is a fairly readable history of Genoa's innovations in the world of economics in ten chapters.

These apparently include public debt, government bonds, discount on state bond coupons, the clearing house, and double-entry accounting. At least, that is, based on the existing documentation in Genoa and lack thereof elsewhere.

You can read the first edition (2004) of this bilingual (Italian/English) book, in PDF format, on Giuseppe Felloni's site. Chapter 4 deals specifically with the history of the House and Bank of St. George (Genoa, 1407-1805), whose archives, the basis for this book, Felloni has catalogued for years.

If nothing else, you'll certainly enjoy the pictures.

The above illustration of Genoa, around 1490, is a woodcut from Hartmann Schedel’s Weltchronik (Nürnberg 1493), fol. lviii verso. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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