Changes in the classification of “draps” and “draperies”

“Drap” and “Draperies” mainly refer to woolen cloths. However, in the Balance du Commerce source, one can find some occurence of “draps de lin” or “draps de soie”. As a consequence, up to now, we were agnostic as to the raw material of “draps” when there was no qualifier. In the SITC classification, we have put them in “Other threads and fabrics” (6i) instead of “Woolen threads and fabrics” (6e). In the “Revolution and Empire” classification, “Draps divers” were distinguished from “Étoffes de Laine”.

While listening to Jean-Marc Minovez’s seminar on londrins on December 9th, I realized that something was wrong with our woolen export data. Why were the national figures going to zero (1757, 1778, 1782-1813) on some years? Especially when nothing seemd wrong from Marseille’s point of view?

In red, the value of exports of woolens from Marseille to the Levant. In black, the value of exports from the whole of France to the Levant (purple are exports from Montpellier, BTW).

I then looked at the national level at the relationship between national exports of “Other threads and fabrics” (6i) and national exports of “Woolen threads and fabrics” (6e). Looking at 1756, 1782-1789 and 1811-1812 suggested something wrong was going on. Increases of “other threads and fabrics” are the symmetric of decreases of “Woolen threads and fabrics” and vis-versa.

in black, national exports of “Other threads and fabrics”, in red, national exports of “Woolen threads and fabrics”.

Looking at Savary and the 4th edition of the dictionnaire de l’Académie it is very clear that, when there is no qualifier, “drap” designates a woolen cloth. So I have decided to change the SITC and revolution and empire classifications to reflect that. The time series became much more convincing.

in red, national exports of “Other threads and fabrics”, in black, national exports of “Woolen threads and fabrics”.
In purple, the value of exports of woolens from Marseille to the Levant. In red, the value of exports from the whole of France to the Levant.

There were still two puzzles. What about 1778 ? How come French exports of woolens to the Levant are nil whereas Marseille’s are not? It turned out that the “Objet Général” mislabeled the destination of Marseille’s londrins to “Flandres” (which would have been a rather export destination). That was corrected in the Objet Général, using our new absurd and guess flagging feature. On the other hand, the Objet Général used a price (6 lt per pound) that is much more plausible than the Marseille price for this year (4 lt per pound) (You can look here at the prices of londrins in the database.) So the Marseille data were corrected as well.

The second puzzle is 1808 and the big increase of exports of “Other threads and fabrics”. It turns out that comes from an 11 million l.t. export of “Étoffes diverses” to Germany. So that seems to be legitimate. Of course, part of them could be “Étoffes de laines”, but that item is also explicitely present. So there does not seem to be anything we should do about it.

You can go and see the latest versions of the graphs here for total exports and here for exports to the Levant.

Guillaume Daudin