The daybooks were the most immediate type of ledger used in the
Tirocchi shop. They literally recorded all the transactions of the
shop day-by-day. For a certain date, someone would enter a customers
name and what she ordered or which services she requested on that
date. Sometimes there is a subsequent notation in red, "Sent
Home," when the garment had been delivered and was no longer
Periodicallyperhaps at the end of each seasonthe information
was transferred from the daybooks to the customer ledgers. The books
differ from year to year, but often when a section was transferredsuch
as Mrs. Pecks orders from a certain datethe entries
would be crossed out in the daybook and the word "Entered"
would be written above or below the section.
Sometimes the handwriting is very neat in the daybooks, and sometimes
it is just a scrawl, as if being done quickly while the customer
was actually in the shop. The curators have not yet determined whether
or not the neater entries were subsequent recordings of information
made on scraps of paper (some of which were also found), or if they
were made at the time by the bookkeeper, who would have been more
removed from the actual dealings with the client, and thus unhurried.
The daybooks also record returns to vendors. In the very early
years of the shop, records did not seem to be so specialized. One
large ledger from the 1910s seems to be a daybook, a customer ledger,
an inventory list, and a vendor ledger all in one. As the shop grew
and the business became more sophisticated, the custom of daybooks
and permanent ledgers came into being.
The curators can glean all sorts of information from the daybooks.
They can see the actual flow of the business to determine which
months of the year were the busiest. Indeed, they can see which
weeks and which days of those weeks were the busiest. They may surmise
that certain ladies came together to the shop. They can also see
the pattern of visits made by the clients and analyze their buying
habits. Because vendor returns are included, the curators can see
how Madame Tirocchi managed her inventory, and can sometimes even
track the returns to requests from clients.
Records that were fleeting for the Tirocchi sisters have become
valuable research material for curators and scholars studying fashion
history, the history of consumption (buying patterns), womens
history, and business history. Since the information recorded in
the daybooks was periodically transferred to more permanent ledgers,
the Tirocchi sisters or their bookkeeper could easily have tossed
these smaller volumes once they were no longer needed. The curators
are very glad they did not.
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