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The treatment of merchandises in the toflit18 datascape

Loïc Charles, Guillaume Daudin, Paul Girard

The French «Bureau de la Balance du Commerce» 18th century data include more than 51,000 different merchandises mentioned in the 18th century sources (for 420,000 trade flows). Correcting for mistakes made by the original scribes and the person in charge of the transcription brings that number down to 24,500. Further identifying synonyms brings it down to 18,000. It is however necessary to devise some sort of aggregation process to be able to use the data collected to answer a wider set of economic history issues. This paper presents the technical solutions we found and their application to the question of the effect of the loss of Canada, the futility of mercantilist wars, medical drug trade, grain trade and the effect of the Franco-British Eden trade treaty.