These volumes contain the correspondence between Francisco Pinheiro in Lisbon and his agents in ah parts of the Portuguese Empire, and Europe and South America during the first half of the eighteenth century. Prospective readers should not deduce from the title that the letters are concerned only with commercial matters. They are a mine of information that can be worked by scholars of all disciplines: historians, economists, anthropologists, sociologists, ethnologists and others. For Brazil, especially, they contain information found nowhere else. Those who can never have the time to read these five fat volumes, should select at random some of the longer letters to get the savor of the times.

If the reader had been left to do his own analysis, the task would require months, even years, to complete. Dr. Lisante has, fortunately for us, done our work. More than half of the first volume is devoted to analyses of the contents of the letters. A twenty-page glossary defines terms then in use, many of which could not be found in modern dictionaries; some eighteen pages of “Metrologia” gives measurements of the great variety of goods exchanged in international commerce; another fifty pages of “Cenario e Personagens” list the people who appear in the letters as well as providing population statistics for the cities and countries involved in Pinheiro’s trade; and the letters are tabulated to show their origins and destinations between 1701 and 1752.

The commerce is analyzed by the origin, destination and year for the various provinces of Brazil, as well as for other areas of the world such as Colônia do Sacramento, Buenos Aires, cities in Africa and Asia, and Europe. The quantities and prices are given, the expenses detailed, and the profit or loss shown. Some of the imports of Brazil and other American regions were wine, flour, cheese, cloth of an astounding variety, salt, glassware, codfish, olive oil, aguardente, butter, figs and other dried fruits, iron, guns and gun powder, silk stockings, shoes, paper, tin, wax, tools, and a wide variety of other products from the world over.

Imports are also summarized under the headings of foods, drink, cloth, and other manufactured products. In contrast with a number of different things brought from Macau, only one, silver, is listed as going into Macau. For the period 1701-1744, for all ports, cloth led in trade with forty-seven percent, food followed with thirty-one percent, manufactured products about ten percent, and drinks about six percent. The statistics show the amount of cash transactions, credit granted, commissions, and other expenses. Rio de Janeiro did the largest trade for Pinheiro.

Occasionally there were cargoes of slaves, as for example into Rio de Janeiro in 1715 when 111 were imported. Of the original cargo of 116, four died at sea and one on land—a much smaller proportion than usually indicated in statistics of the slave trade (p. ccxvi). One section of twenty-five pages (beginning cdxcix) on the slave trade shows numbers, ages, prices, costs of food and clothing, caloric content of food consumed, medicines and other particulars. For Minas Gerais there is shown the production of gold per capita of slave from 1716 to 1814.

Dr. Lisante has preceded each letter with a summary in French. The letters often make observations on such things as religious festivals, political and international events, personal relationships of families and other matters not directly related to commerce.

Few publications can match the usefulness of this one. The great gap that exists between what we would like to know and what we know is greatly narrowed by the abundant information herein contained. Dr. Lisante has made a major contribution not matched since the publication of Séville et I’Atlanttque by Huguette and Pierre Chaunu.