16 Patterns of Consumption in Renaissance Venice
Reconstructing prices and price indexes for pre-industrial societies is always a challenge for researchers. Despite the fact that several account books have been preserved and may offer purchase and sale prices of a wide range of goods, the definition of a consumer basket – a set of different quantities of goods forming the basic consumption unit for an average individual or family – faces several difficulties. Average consumption is difficult to establish even in pre-industrial times, since buying activities vary of course not only according to wealth and income, but also to social class; and it is usually difficult to record and assess self-consumption. It seems more important to offer some parameters from a single case study, the ledger of a Venetian patrician recording his purchases on a daily basis, in a couple of months in 1455.