Production, trade and customs in Southern Eastern Europe

PEYSSONEL, Charles de

Traité sur le commerce de la Mer Noire

Publication: Laporte for Cuchet, Paris, 1787.

PEYSSONEL, Charles de, Traité sur le commerce de la Mer Noire

Fascinating account of the trade and business in Southern Russia and the Black Sea in the 18th century – with a wealth of details and personal comments. First edition, not common.

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First edition of this important encyclopeadia on the flourishing trade over the Black Sea before the Russian conquest, with a folding table detailing the various fees and customs duties on a wide range of goods, as well as the cost of carriages to many destinations.

Peyssonel (sometimes Peyssonnel; 1727-90) was French consul to Crimea for more than 10 years from 1753, with a view to expand French presence and business in the region. He gathered much material during his travels, before being interrupted by the Russo-Turkish war, and published a few works on the region and the relationships between Russia, Turkey and Europe.

The ‘Traité’, his main work, gives a lively and very detailed account of his observations. “[Il] joignait à l’erudition, beaucoup d’esprit ; son style est à la fois naturel et énergique” (Biogr. univ.). A particular attention is given to the various products traded, including arms, tobacco, tea, fish and caviar, wine, salt, slaves, etc., with comprehensive descriptions and tables covering all aspects, from their production to their price, including their packing and transport, detailing also the incoming and outgoing flows city by city, or by region. The second volume extends his observations to the neighbouring countries of Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania (Valachia) and Moldavia among others. It also includes rich cultural and social observations on the ‘Petite Tartarie’, ie. the Ukraine, and especially on Crimea and its Tatars.


Aldo Maffey (20th-c. Italian historian of politics; booklabel to upper pastedowns).


Biographie universelle XXXIII, 558; Goldsmiths 13414; Kress B.1314.

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Physical Description

Two volumes 8vo (19.4 x 11.7 cm). Half-title, title, dedication leaf, iv, 340 pp., with a folding letterpress table; half-title, title, 377, [2] pp.


Nineteeth-century green sheep spines over brown marbled boards, flat spines with gilt lettering and ornaments, blue sprinkled edges.


Bindings minimally rubbed, abrasion to upper cover of vol. 1; first half of vol. 2 browned, otherwise occasional light browning, foxing or marginal waterstaining, still a crisp, very good copy.

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