A moneylender in Venice: Costantino Bogdano ‘da Patrasso’, c. 1800-44
Research on the practices of the moneylender, a permanent yet shadowy fixture of society, has focused on England in the early modern period. This paper, however, examines the business operations of Costantino Bogdano, a Greek moneylender active in Venice (c. 1800-44). At a time of transition in finance and cash shortage, Bogdano offered credit at a ‘just’ interest rate with competitive terms, combining profit with enlightened self-interest. Individuals from all walks of life repeatedly turned to him for money without ‘fear of losing their property’. He was patient, granted extensions for repayment and did not prosecute his bad debtors. The incidence of default was rare, testifying to a cautious choice of clientele. He required the usual guarantees of mortgages and jewels and also relied on implicit guarantees from family members linked to one another with bonds of trust. This strategy proved to be financially viable because he died a wealthy man.
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