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GRAND DUCHY OF TUSCANY PAWNSHOP OF FLORENCE CITY DECREE 12/09/1645

This certificate of deposit can be considered among the oldest Italian bank documents. It’s dated back to the era of Grand Duke Ferdinand II of Tuscany, whose father Cosimo, in 1616 in Florence proceeded to the reform of the Pawnshop, that held for long a complex banking activity, providing it with a annuity guaranteed by public revenues. It replaced the system of deposit with interest, practiced until then, with the sales of places of Monte. The reform is inspired by the concern to avoid ecclesiastical censures against the activities of the Monte, that essentially doesn’t undergo great modifications, and with its capital is, increasingly a control tool of most of the Florentine wool and silk market, according to a large international lending policy.

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Ferdinand II of Tuscany was born in Florence in 1610. His reign lasted officially 42 years, from 1628 to 1670. In 1621 his father Cosimo II died. The will provided that the Archbishop of Pisa Giuliano Medici, the Count Orso D’Elci, Niccolò Dell’Antella and the Marquis Fabrizio Colloredo, took place alongside his mother Christina of Lorraine and his grandmother Mary Magdalene in administrating the state’s affairs. On July 14, 1626, Ferdinand II became Grand Duke and he was immediately loved by his subjects for his mild and simple character: finding all finances in trouble, he considerably reduced the court’s expenses. His popularity increased even more when, in 1630, unlike many other members of the nobility and the government, Ferdinand and his brothers personally gave assistance to the population affected by a terrible plague that killed 10% of the Grand Duchy’s people, causing severe economic dislocations. During his long reign, Ferdinand shared the power with his brothers Giovan Carlo, Mattias and Leopoldo, with which he established a very good collaboration. Despite the commitment and the ability recognized by many historians, the reign of Ferdinand II saw the first signals of decadence of the Tuscan economy, due to the damages of the plague of 1630, and the international  economical and political disastrous situation, culminating with the onerous Tuscan intervention during the War of Castro. Nevertheless, Ferdinand continued the rehabilitation works of Chiana, took care of agricultural products, in particular of wines ,oils, and raw silks. He also reduced internal duties and tried to break down the barriers that limited the development of the wool and silk industry. In foreign policy Ferdinand acted in the name of caution, trying to balance between France and Spain; in 1635 he vainly tried to create a league of Italian states able to oppose to the two powers; in 1643 he entered the second War of Castro to prevent a strengthening of the Papal State to the southern borders of the Grand Duchy. The war ruined even more the state’s funds, so that in some agricultural areas the practice of bartering back to the top, due to the strong monetary problems. Under his reign, the Grand Duchy territory is widened, thanks to the purchase of the county of Santa Fiora (1633) by a descendent of the Sforza, and of Pontremoli (1649) by the Spain for 50 thousand golden florins. The Grand Duke is also so keen on astronomy to keep barometers, thermometers and other technological tools inside Palazzo Pitti.  He helped economically  researchers such as Galileo Galilei, Evangelista Torricelli and Vincenzo Viviani.

MONTEDIPIETA1645

In 1642 he founded the Medicea Experimental Academy and in 1654 opened the first meteorological service in the world with the help of the Jesuit Luigi Antinori. The only shadow of his action is the Inquisition trial against Galileo Galilei in 1633, but it must be said that Ferdinand made every effort to ensure the physicist with the maximum well-being during his confinement at Arcetri. Ferdinand died on May 23, 1670 by a stroke following a dropsy aggravation that had affected him for a long time. As we said at the beginning, the document we are discussing today is very rare, and its graphic variant makes it virtually unique. Its current market value is around 5 thousand euro, and its growth potential is incredibly high.  The share in question, issued by the pawnshop of Florence, the new non-vacant Monte, gives us an opportunity to make a brief history of the Monti, which dates back to medieval credit  institutions on pledge.  From the sixteenth century they procured funds by receiving cash deposits from citizens on the back of the issuance of debt certificates so-called Luoghi ( a term that means equity shares). With the gradual evolution of the banking system the Monti became real lenders , some of which still exist. The amount of Luoghi was always high: generally, at the Florentine Monti, their unit value was 100 crowns, a respectable figure for that time and certainly out of reach for small investors. Thus, to make the investment possible to all, the placement of portions of Luogo was also allowed, on condition that not less than one quarter (25 shields). The Luoghi called themselves vacant if without security, that is redeemable with the death of “montista” (in this case they represented pure certificates of life annuity), or non-vacant if redeemable (in this case they became equity securities, transferable and lasting).

Alberto PUPPO
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