In the Tirocchi archive, there are a number of customer ledgers that generally span a "season" in the shop’s business–from October of one year to October of the next. Clients typically made the bulk of their purchases in the fall and the spring, with the fall of the year being regarded as the beginning of a new social season and the occasion for adding to or improving one’s wardrobe.

The ledgers contain a section in the beginning of the book with pages tabbed with letters of the alphabet. In this section, the clients’ names are listed alphabetically with the page number of the ledger that records their transactions for the year.

Upon turning to a particular client’s page in the ledger, the curators are able to see at a glance what kind of customer she was. The client’s name and address top the page. Following is a dated listing of all the garments and accessories purchased, and the various dressmaking services required, along with the prices charged.

It might be noted that a certain dress was made or purchased, that an alteration was done, and that an accessory–such as a handbag or scarf–was bought. Each transaction would have a separate line for its brief description.

Sometimes a delivery date is recorded. Usually there is a record of payment, and sometimes a notation about billing. At the end of the listing, the charges are totaled, thus showing at a glance what each client spent in a particular year.

These customer ledgers were summary records for the shop. The curators have surmised that someone in the shop–probably the bookkeeper–transferred information about client orders from the daybooks to the customer ledgers, most likely at the end of the year.

Curators and scholars have found the customer ledgers fascinating. Not only do they give a general overview of the business of the shop, they shed light on customer preferences and buying patterns. Because the transactions are entered as brief descriptions, the curators can trace and analyze the flow of the business. The ledgers reveal how many gowns were custom-made and how many were ready-made; the sales of accessories; and the percentage of the business comprised by dressmaking services, such as makeovers, alterations, repairs, cleaning, and pressing.

The books also record fashion trends, allowing the curators to see what the women were buying from season to season, and how they altered dresses from previous seasons. Billing and payment notations often show what a personal business the custom dressmaking business was. Delayed and partial payments had to be accepted by the Tirocchis in order to keep their clients.

In short, the customer ledgers are at once business, fashion, and social records. As such, they are valuable research resources for a variety of purposes.

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   Sources and Methods
   The People
   The Business
      Address Books
      Shop Announcements
      Bills   |   Day Books
      Employee Address Book
      Inventory   |   Ledgers
      Letters   |   Payroll
      Time Books
      Travel Records
      Vendor Account Books
      Vendor Invoices
      Vendor Letters
      Vendor Promotions
   Custom Dressmaking



Data from the ledgers makes up the bulk of the information in the Transactions Database.