Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, by Richard Hakluyt

(George Killingworth was furnished with a copy of the following notice of the coines, weights and measures vsed in Russia, written by Iohn Hasse, in the yeere, 1554:—)

Forasrauch as it is most necessary for al marchants which seeks to haue traffique in any strange regions, first to acquaint themselues with the coines of those lands with which they do intend to ioyne in traffique, and how they are called from the valuation of the highest piece to the lowest, and in what sort they make their paiments, as also what their common weights and measures be: for these causes I haue thought good to write something thereof according to mine owne knowledge and experience, to the end that, the marchants of that new aduenture, may the better vnderstand how the wealth of that new frequented trade will arise.

First, it is to be noted that the Emperour of Russia hath no other coines then siluer in all his land, which goeth for paiment amongst merchants, yet notwithstanding there is a coine of copper, which serueth for the reliefe of the poore in Mosco, and no where els, and that is but only for quasse, water and fruit, as nuts, apples, and such other like. The name of which money is called Pole or Poles of which Poles there goe to the least of the siluer coines, 18. But I will not stand vpon this, because it is no currant money among marchants.

Of siluer coines there be three sortes of pieces: the least is a Poledenga, the second a Denga, the third, Nowgrote, which is as much to say in English as halfepenie, penie and twopence, and for other valued money then this, there is none: there are oftentimes there coines of gold, but they come out of forrein countreys, whereof there is no ordinarie valuation, but they passe according to the agreement of marchants.

Their order in summing of money is this: as we say in England, halfpenie, penie, shilling, and pound, so say they Poledenga, Denga, Altine and Rubble: there goeth two Poledengas to a Denga, six Dengaes to an Altine, and 23 Altines, and two Dengaes to a Rubble.

Concerning the weights of Russia they are these: There are two sortes of pounds in vse amongst them, the one great, the other small: the great pound is iust two small pounds: they call the great weight by the name of Beasemar, and the smal they call the Skalla weight: with this smal weight they weigh their siluer coines, of the which the Emperor hath commanded to put to euery small pound three Rubbles of siluer, and with the same weight they weigh all Grocerie wares, and almost al other wares which come into the land, except those which they weigh by the Pode, as hops, salt, iron, lead, tinne and batrie with diuers others, notwithstanding they vse to weigh batrie more often by the small weight then by the great.

Whensoever you find the prices of your wares rated by the Pode, consider that to the great weight, and the pound to be the small. Also they divide the small pound into 48 parts, and they call the eight and fortieth part a Slotnike, by the which Slotnike the retailers sell their wares out of their shops, as Goldsmiths, Grocers, Silkesellers, and such other like as we doe vse to retaile by the ounce: and as for their great weight which they cal the Beasemar, they sel by pode or shippond. The pode doth containe of the great weight, 40 pounds, and of the small 80; there goe 10. podes to a shippond.

Yet you must consider that their great weight is not full with ours: for I take not their great pound to be full 13 ounces, but aboue 12 I thinke it be. But for your iust proofe, weigh 6 Rubbles of Russia money with our pound weight, and then shal you see what it lacketh: for 6 Rubbles of Russia is by the Emperors standerd, the great pound: so that I thinke it the next way to know the iust weight, as well of the great pound as of the small.

There is another weight needfull to be knowen, which is the weight of Wardhouse, for so much as they weigh all their drie fish by weight, which weight is the Baesemar, as they of Russia doe vse, notwithstanding there is another sorte in it: the names of those weights are these: the marke pound, the great pound, the weie, and the shippond. The marke pound is to be vnderstood as our pound, and their great pound is 24 of their marke pound: the weie is 3 great pound, and 8 weie is a shippound.

Now concerning their measures. As they haue two sortes of weights, so they haue also two sortes of measures: wherewith they measure cloth both linnen and wollen: they cal the one an Areshine, and the other a Locut: the Areshine I take to bee as much as the Flanders ell, and their Locut halfe an English yard: with their Areshine they may mete all such sorts of clothes as come into the land, and with the Locut all such cloth both linnen and wollen, as they make themselues. And whereas we vse to giue yard and inch, or yard and handfull, they do giue nothing but bare measure.

They haue also measure wherewith they doe mete their corne, which they cal a Setforth, and the halfe of that an Osmine: this Setforth I take to bee three bushels of London measure. And as for their drinke measure, they call it a Spanne, which is much like a bucket, and of that I neuer saw any true rate, but that some was greater then other some. And as for the measures of Wardhouse wherewith they mete their cloth, there is no difference between that and the measure of Danske, which is halfe an English ell.

Concerning the tolles and customs of Russia, it was reported to me in Moscouia, that the Turkes and Armenians pay the tenth penie custome of all the wares they bring into the Emperors land, and aboue that they pay for all such goods as they weigh at the Emperours beame, two pence of the Rubble, which the buyer or seller must make report to the Master of the beame: they also pay a certaine horse toll, which is in diuers places of his Realme four pence of a horse.

The Dutch nation are free of this: notwithstanding for certaine offences, they had lost their priuiledges which they haue recouered this Summer to their great charge. It was reported to me by a Iustice of that countrey, that they paied for it thirtie thousand Rubbles, and also that Rye, Dorpte and Reuel haue yeelded themselues vnder the gouernment of the Emperor of Russia: whether this was a bragge of the Russes or not, I know not, but thus he sayd, and in deed whiles we were there, there came a great Ambassadour out of Liefland, for the assurance of their priuiledges.

To speake somewhat of the commodities of this countrey, it is to be vnderstood, that there is a certaine place foure score miles from the Sea called Colmogro: to which place there resorte all the sortes of Wares that are in the North parts, as Oyles, Salt, Stockefish, Salmon, Fethers and Furres: their Salt they make of saltwater by the sea side: their Oyles they make of Seales, whereof they haue great store which is brought out of the Bay where our shippes came in: they make it in the Spring of the yeere, and bring it to Colmogro to sell, and the marchants there carie it to Nouogrode, and so sell it to the Dutch nation. Their Stockefish and Salmon commeth from a place called Mallums, not farre from Warehouse: their Salmon and their Salt they carrie to Mosco, and their drie fish they carrie to Nouogrode, and sell it there to the Lieflanders.

The Furres and Fethers which come to Colmogro, as Sables, Beauers, Minkes, Armine, Lettis, Graies, Wooluerings, and white Foxes, with Deere skinnes, they are brought thither, by the men of Penninge, Lampas, and Powstezer, which fetch them from the Sarnoedes that are counted sauage people: and the merchants that bring these Furres doe vse to trucke with the marchants of Colmogro for Cloth, Tinne, Batrie, and such other like, and the merchants of Colmogro carie them to Nouogrode, Vologda, or Mosco, and sell them there. The Fethers which come fom Penning they doe little esteeme.

If our marchants do desire to know the meetest place of Russia for the standing house, in mine opinion I take it to be Vologda, which is a great towne standing in the heart of Russia, with many great and good towns about it. There is great plenty of corne, victuals, and of all such wares as are raised in Rusland, but specially, flaxe, hempe, tallow and bacon: there is also great store of waxe, but it commeth from the Mosko.

The towne of Vologda is meetest for our marchants, because it lieth amongst all the best towns of Russia, and there is no towne in Russia but trades with it: also the water is a great commoditie to it. If they plant themselues in Mosco or Nouogrode their charge will be great and wonderfull, but not so in Vologda: for all things will there be had better cheape by the one half. And for their vent, I know no place so meet. It is likely that some will think the Mosko to be the meetest by the reason of the court, but by that reason I take it to be woorse: for the charge there would be so great by crauers and expenses, that the moitie of the profite would bee wholly consumed, which in the other place will be saved. And yet notwithstanding our marchants may bee there in the Winter to serue the Emperour and his court. The Emperour is a great marchant himselfe of waxe and sables, which with good foresight may bee procured to their hands: as for other commodities there are little or none in Moscovia, besides those aboue rehearsed: if there bee other, it is brought thither by the Turkes, who will be daintie to buy our clothes considering the charges of cariage ouer land.

Our marchants may doe well to prouide for the Russes such wares as the Dutch nation doeth serue them of, as Flanders and Holland clothes, which I beleeue, they shal serue better and with lesse charge than they of Rye or Dorpt, or Reuel: for it is no smal aduenture to bring their clothes out of Flanders to either of these places, and their charge not litle to cary them ouer lande to Nouogrode, which is from Rye nine hundred Russian miles.

This Nouogrode is a place wel furnished with flaxe, Waxe, Hides, tallow and many other things: the best flaxe in Russia is brought thither, and there, sold by the hundred bundles, which is done also at Vologda, and they that bring the flaxe to Nouogrode, dwell as neere Vologda, as Nouogrode, and when they heare of the vtterance which they may haue with our nation, they will as willingly come to them as goe to other.

They haue in Russia two sortes of flaxe, the one is called great flaxe, and the other small: that which they call great flaxe is better by foure rubbles in 100. bundels than the small: It is much longer than the other, and cleaner without wood: and whereas of the small flaxe there goe 27. or 28. bundles to a shippound, there goeth not of the greater sort aboue 22. or 24. at the most. There are many other trifles in Russia, as sope, mats, &c. but I thinke there will bee no great account made of them.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hakluyt/voyages/v03/chapter12.html

Last updated Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 22:12