A methodology for estimating the volume of Baltic timber to Spain using the Sound Toll Registers: 1670–1806

The Sound Toll Registers Online project has opened a trove of information for historians, but calculating the actual volume of the trade it represents remains a challenge. Attempts have been made for products that were measured in weight or volume, but timber products were usually recorded by the number of pieces in a ship’s cargo. Different timber products varied greatly in size, so the amount of pieces is not useful for determining the volume of timber. Here I propose an approach for estimating the volume of Baltic timber trade using Spain as a case study. Such an estimate can be made by dividing distinct products and assigning them predictable dimensions. First, the process of converting the amount of timber pieces into volume is discussed. I then discuss the possibilities and problems with estimating tonnage. The article concludes with a discussion of the problems and limitations of this methodology.


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Nathan Gallagher
International Journal of Maritime History, Vol 28, Issue 4, 2016

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