A Caltech Library Service

High Finance: Parisian Style

Hoffman, Philip T. (2000) High Finance: Parisian Style. Humanities: The Magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities, 21 (4). pp. 40-43. ISSN 0018-7526.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


In 1754, the French author Voltaire was acquiring real estate, and to fund his purchases he drew upon his investment portfolio. "I beg you to let me know how much I can borrow against my account in order to arrange all this," he wrote to Guillaume Claude de Laleu. "I would also like you to send me Monsieur de Mont Martel's 160,000 livre short-term note, which can be cashed at par value even though it is far from being payable." Although more than two centuries have passed, Voltaire's business letters have a surprisingly modern ring. At times he sounds like a wealthy modern investor, dashing off e-mail messages to his stockbroker or his personal banker. Yet, his man of business, de Laleu, was neither broker nor banker. He was a notary in Paris. In eighteenth-century France, it was often to notaries that ordinary people and sometimes the government would turn to borrow and invest. As a group, Parisian notaries were unrivaled financial intermediaries. In the 1700s, they raised more money for long-term financing than banks and stock exchanges would until the mid-nineteenth century.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Additional Information:Philip T. Hoffman received an NEH grant of $49,046 to study notarial credit in France.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Endowment for the HumanitiesUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160321-094031302
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:65515
Deposited On:06 Apr 2016 22:45
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 09:48

Repository Staff Only: item control page