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¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 To paraphrase the result in nonstatistical language: credits did not exist independently from trade. The more a merchant bought and sold, the more claims he collected. Rather than a primary moneylender, he was a businessman who employed credit as a tool of his trade in goods: cattle, horses, land, and grain. The local business practice of “cattle deposition” (Viehverstellung), common both in Stühlingen [R1605] and Lengnau,39 demonstrates another aspect of this complex business model: A farmer who needed money sold a cow to the merchant, but the merchant had neither a prospective buyer ready nor a stable to take care of the animal. So the farmer kept the cow in his stable, “renting” the animal from the merchant and benefiting from the milk. He could buy back the cow at any moment for the initial price. If the merchant, in the meantime, found a potential buyer and the farmer was unable to buy back his cow, the cow went to the new owner. One might readily interpret this type of transaction differently as money loaned to the farmer, with the cow serving as security and the rent representing interest on the loan. This type of business was not without its own inherent risk. Contracts were not sufficiently clear as to who had to bear the loss if a deposited cow should get sick or die [R3891]. A farmer might have had his own ideas about the legal ownership of the deposited cow and sold it surreptitiously to a third party [R3233]. Although a popular business formula, cattle deposition was frowned upon by the authorities [R1110].
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Cattle dealing in the early modern period is readily comparable to today’s used car market. Buyers were trying to get as cheap a deal as possible, and they easily felt cheated when the goods turned out to be defective. Isaac (B1.2.2) was sued because a horse he had sold dropped dead soon after [R3174]. But liability could also be taken too far: Marumb Jekhoff’s son (G1.3) was sued for a horse that he had sold eighteen years earlier [R3852].
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0
39Weldler-Steinberg and Guggenheim-Grünberg, “Geschichte der Juden in der Schweiz,” 42.
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