An almanac well-worn through regular use
At the 2018 New York Book Fair, the JCB purchased an intriguing little blue pamphlet: an 1807 almanac printed in Saint-Pierre, Martinique. This pocket almanac is exactly the kind of everyday printed work that would have been in the possession of merchants in early 19th-century Martinique and of use throughout the working day. It contained tables of exchanges rates, moving between local currency (gourdes) and French metropolitan currency (livres), allowing the reader to calculate quickly the value of goods and exchanges in each currency, reflecting both the intensely regional but also broader transatlantic commercial world in which Caribbean colonies existed. The almanac also provides other information related to the daily functioning of commercial operations: the hours of sunrise and sunset, and the festival days of the Catholic calendar. This example of printed-daily ephemera (complete with manuscript calculations on the covers) provides a vital look into commercial practices during the early years of the re-establishment of French control of Martinique after British wartime occupation, which lasted until 1802.