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Balkan Peninsula -- History -- Sources, Turkey -- History -- Ottoman Empire (1288-1918), Balkan Peninsula -- Commerce -- History -- 19th century


This article compares samples in commercial and epistolary guides, which provide a discursive framework to 'real' business partnership contracts and correspondence, dispersed in merchant archives that contextualize (and humanize) the dry contractual language. The guides offered pragmatism and standardization of economic behavior, envisioning commerce not only as a tool for achieving wealth but also a broader activity in the service of social progress and national prosperity. Contracts provide insights into everyday business practices, such as local economic reconfigurations, multiethnic regional cooperation, long-distance trade, and intergenerational communication. The article suggests that while the contract form followed old formulaic structure and language, its content during the first half of the 19th century reflected this broader conception of trade. This blend of professional and social identity did not last long, though. Contracts from the second half of the century indicated trends towards separation of commerce, finance, and industry and reflect broader economic and institutional changes.


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