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The Romance of Double-Entry Bookkeeping

The month of October 1540 is a happy one for the Vallaresso family.

Faustina's Wedding. The first notice we have is a Journal entry for October 15: Alvise transfers 4000 ducati from his Capital account to the account of Ser Jacomo Bragadin, ``my brother-in-law'' for the dowry of his sister Faustina. This tremendous amount (roughly $480000) is to be paid in money and

5. Two Weddings

in goods, following the terms of the marriage contract.

On that same day we have some expenses for the wedding:

Some of the items in the dowry are itemized in the Journal. First a cash payment of 180 lire:

Next the two dresses that Alvise had made for Faustina back in May. They are valued at 92 ducati, which is exactly what he paid back then for the fabric and the tailoring.

Next four houses on the Cale de la Pietà which produce a rental income of 45 ducati a year. They are valued at 1000 ducati.

Next 990 ducati (roughly $118000) worth of jewels: two diamonds, two rubies, a saphire, an emerald, a balasso (a yellowish ruby), and a string of 60 pearls worth roughly $12000:

And finally a bank transfer to round out the balance of the dowry:

One additional item is the fee to Ser Marcho Baldi, the wedding broker: 25 ducati:

Alvise's Wedding. Close on the heels of Faustina's wedding comes her brother's. Again the first notice we have is the dowry recording in the Journal. On October 20 it registers the 4000 ducati dowry of ``Lucretia, my wife,'' paid by her father Ser Philippo Moresini:

In this case Alvise contributes a ``counter-dowry'':

Ser Philippo pays mostly in cash, plus 250 ducati of jewels for Lucretia's use, another 250 of gold jewelry, 350 ducati worth of clothing and finally a transfer at the Priulli Bank to round out the sum. One last item in the Journal is the recording of 75 ducati of wedding expenses, including meals, and 10 ducati for Ser Marcho Baldi who also arranged this marriage.

Alvise documents some purchases he makes for his wife. First, clothing: On November 10 he buys 18 yards of green satin (at 20 grossi the yard) and 9 ducati of lining material (fox skins from the Marche) to make a pelizza, a lined coat. The tailoring and accessories cost 2 ducati. The coat comes with a cap (scuffia) of gold-covered silk, 8 ducati, and a collar made a la moderna, another 8 ducati. Total 42 ducati. To get an idea of what Lucretia might have looked like in her finery, see Titian's Portait of a Lady in the National Gallery (1555) or ``La Schiavona'' in the National Gallery, London (1511).

Next he buys her some jewelry: a ruby set in a pendant and a turquoise set in a fancy ring, from the goldsmith Ser Antonio Rizo:

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