The Romance of Double-Entry Bookkeeping
Feature Column Archive
4. Household expenses
Several of the Journal entries for May and June, 1540 concern food for Alvise's household and clothing for his family. For bookkeeping purposes, these are tabulated in the accounts Household Living Expenses and Household Clothing Expenses (Spese di viver di casa, spese di vestir di casa).
Food. On May 2, Alvise buys 4 stara of Paduan flour, paying cash. A staro is roughly a bushel; the cost, 3 1/2 soldi per staro, is about $3 a pound in my order-of-magnitude estimates.
He buys a bigonzia of red Vincenzan wine on credit, from the wine merchant Ser Maphio di Torta. A bigonzia is six bigonze, each approximately 25 gallons. The price works out to something like $9 a gallon.
He pays for 20 miri of good-quality oil by crediting one of his debtors. A miro is about 21 pounds; the price is about $11 a quart.
Incidental household expenses were taken care of by Alvise's servant Antonio, who kept a separate account and was reimbursed from Cash:
Clothing. Cloth was very expensive. On May 10, Alvise buys 7 yards (braza) of black cloth from Ser Jeronimo Paoluzi, to make a garment for himself. This cloth costs g.44 per yard, roughly $220.
The same day he buys 24 yards of white satin (at g.30/yard) and 24 yards of crimson velvet (at d.2 1/4 per yard) to make dresses for his sister Faustina, who now enters the stage. The satin is bought on credit from Ser Zanantinio di Calvi, veludaro; the price of the velvet is paid to the Priulli Bank for credit to Ser Juanne di Giacomo.
The cloth for Faustina's two dresses costs roughly $10000. Tailoring costs are relatively small. He pays Master Martin, tailor from San Lio, d.6 g.16 (roughly $700) for making up several articles of clothing; the same debit includes extra related expenses totalling d.1 g.18.
Household help. On May 18, Alvise pays Antonio Padovano his salary for the year to date: 4 ducati, roughly $400. This works out to a little over $80 per month. He also pays Martin, the page (fante), his entire salary for the year: 12 ducati. Martin makes about $100 per month.
Sometimes the help are paid in goods: Lucia, the housekeeper, is given a worn dress of green cloth and a short beige coat of coarse wool, with total value estimated at d.4 g.12