Questions tagged [business-history]

Questions related to the history of commercial endeavors concerned with the the acquisition of wealth through the harvesting or production of goods or resources, and the buying or selling of those goods or resources, or through providing professional services.

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4
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1answer
91 views

How to research a Victorian company

In June 1890, the South Atlantic (African) Land and Exploration Company advertised its prospectus in a number of English papers including the Brighton Gazette. I am endeavouring to find out as much as ...
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Is there a story about Benjamin Franklin inviting a business competitor into his home to show how meager he is willing to live in order to win?

All my life I have had this distinct memory of writing a paper on Benjamin Franklin back in grade school, and a story where he had brought some business competitor of his into his home and showed him ...
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How significant were government-linked enterprises as a source of revenue for the United States between 1790 and 1846?

What proportion of US government (federal,state,local) revenue came from profits or debt issuance of government-linked enterprises between 1790 and 1846? I chose 1846 as the breakpoint because of the ...
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Who were the first “businessmen” to rival the kings throughout the world? [closed]

The merchants seem to have existed for as long as human history. But when did they begin to "take over" the kings? By that I mean, by the time of the "tycoons" like the Oil and Train people of the ...
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1answer
135 views

What were the largest companies in the world before and after the Great Depression?

The Great Depression obviously had a very severe effect on stock markets; how did this affect the world’s largest companies, by market capitalization? Were steel companies, such as U.S. Steel, ...
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What exactly were the dealings of Ea-Nasir (“The Worst Businessman Of The 18th Century BC”)?

I recently came across an article in Forbes by Kristina Killgrove titled Meet The Worst Businessman Of The 18th Century BC. I know that cuneiform does not probably translate fluidly to English, and ...
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Who kept Roman peculium records?

This is effectively a Roman banking question but specifically with respect to the custody and record keeping of slaves wages. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities indicates a need for a lot of ...
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188 views

How long did it take to buy a house in 1870?

I'm interested in how long it took to carry out major transactions in the nineteenth century compared to today. On the one hand, I expect there was less formality; on the other hand, less information ...
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Why were businesses operating as trusts at one point, and why did the practice fall out of favor?

Anti-trust is synonymous with anti-monopoly. We say "anti-trust" because historically trusts were the preferred vehicles for operating monopolies. Why trusts? I know part of the answer is that there ...
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203 views

What is the history of “industrial date coding” (year followed by week number)?

Does anyone know the history of the common date format that the ISO week date is based on. The Wikipedia article mentioned it was previously known as "Industrial date coding". Usually, it looks ...
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Are there extant rancho budgets (original or contrived) for Mexican California?

This question is a source request for real or estimated annual account ledgers for ranchos in Mexican California. Not much cash was used, so records are sparse. Most goods on the rancho were produced ...
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Who founded the Argentine mate herb enterprise Cruz de Malta?

Who founded the Argentinian herb mate enterprise Cruz de Malta? This company sold herb mate for more than a century. Nowadays, the brand belongs to Molinos.
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In what year did Charles Proteus Steinmetz fix Ford's Generator for the famed $10,000 invoice?

Charles Proteus Steinmetz is the protagonist of an interesting tale about fixing a generator at Ford's plant. Unfortunately the Smithsonian Magazine does not state the year in which the incident ...
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How do I interpret this 17th century English ledger?

I'm an auditor. A colleague and I were discussing some 17th century English ledgers (pictured below). These come from the English Levant Company. However, we aren't sure how to interpret them. How ...
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1answer
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Has there ever been an instance of a business attempting or succeed a coup?

Has there ever been an instance of a business attempting or succeed a coup? If not then are there any instances of business supporting ''rebel'' forces?
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What Insubordination Did Colonel Sanders Do With Prudential Life Insurance?

I've been recently somewhat inspired by the story of Colonel Sanders, someone who experienced failure after failure and moved from job to job over his life, eventually going on to found Kentucky Fried ...
3
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1answer
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Who was the Irish interpreter in Monterey in 1822?

Kirill Khlebnikov was a Russian business agent who made several visits to Alta California. His "Travel Notes" from 1822 describe Khlebnikov's visit to Governor Sola in Monterey, who sent for "the ...
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2answers
532 views

Who was the first retailer in Monterey, California?

There were no businesses in the Spanish presidio at Monterey. Trade goods from the missions and passing ships came through, but there wasn't much to buy. Outside the fort, what was the first fixed-...
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What happened to rural gas stations in the US?

When driving on the rural byways of the rural Midwest one will find gas stations scarce. But if you look closely enough, in every town, down to the tiniest of unincorporated ones, you will find a ...
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Why was Apple not able to compete with Microsoft in the home PC market?

Most of desktop market belongs to Microsoft, which is surprising to an Apple user. What went wrong, what factors were against Apple, what decisions were made that prevented it from conquering the ...
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390 views

Computer business in 1969

Mad Men, season 7, episode 4, describes the computer business in 1969 as follows. IBM would lease computers to businesses, but would do so only for short leases, and would replace them with newer ...
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1answer
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What major company bought all the paint of another company in the 20th century?

I read somewhere about a company that in a brilliant business hack, bought all the paint of another company, and sold it in what became a key moment in the company's history. Was it Walmart in its ...
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1answer
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Did an English company famous for its hidden purpose in the 1720s ever reveal its undertaking?

The Wikipedia article for the South Sea Company says that: "Among the many companies to go public in 1720 is - famously - one that advertised itself as 'a company for carrying out an undertaking of ...
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Why, and how, did chain stores come into being?

Why did chain stores come into being? What social purposes were they initially used for? How did chain stores come into being? What business practices, social and economic contexts allowed early ...
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How prominent were taverns in medieval Europe?

Taverns as defined as a 'commercial establishment in the business of selling alcohol'. I'm aware that taverns existed in some parts of Europe during the late medieval period, but I don't know quite ...
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When were the “War Relief Toy Works” set up and by whom?

There are a number of toys in existence - particularly Noah's Arks - which originate from the 'War Relief Toy Works', which was based in Stoke Newington, a suburb of London, UK. A representative ...
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What are some early examples of local businesses advertising?

Today we see advertisements at sporting events, roadsides, menus, and pretty much everywhere else. What are some early (you define early, but I was specifically thinking of the hey-day of the ...
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Which bank was the oldest surviving bank in the world prior to MPS getting that status?

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena S.p.A. [...] (MPS) is the oldest surviving bank in the world [...] Wikipedia: 1 (and 2, 3) Assuming that this is correct, and using the same criteria, which was the ...
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What English company founded in the 1200s filed for bankruptcy in the 2000s?

I heard a news story about an English company that had been successful since about 1200 and filed for bankruptcy in the last ten years. I heard it reported on NPR's Morning Edition, in early spring of ...
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Who started/popularized the department store perfume gauntlet?

Anybody with functional olfactory senses who has been to a department store knows that nearly every one places the perfume counter right at the front of the store, where every patron is forced to walk ...
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When did retailers stop wrapping purchases in paper and twine?

Listening to stories from relatives, it sounds like it was a near-universal practice (in the US, before the 1970s) to wrap retail purchases with brown paper and twine. Searching for information about ...
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When did songs extolling leaders of companies go out of fashion?

When recently visiting Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA I came across an exhibit called "Songs of the IBM". It's from 1930s and has a song called "Ever onward" which extols then IBM ...
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Has the accounting services industry ever been disrupted in the U.S.?

What is the most-radical example of a disrupting service / model in the accounting business services industry? What I mean by disrupted is that someone has at some point taken such a radically ...
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Where and how did the concept of “incorporation” originate?

Wikipedia states that "The alleged oldest commercial corporation in the world, the Stora Kopparberg mining community in Falun, Sweden, obtained a charter from King Magnus Eriksson in 1347". Is this ...