Accounting in the Port wine Chartered Trade Company (1756–1826)
The Portuguese Companhia Geral da Agricultura das Vinhas do Alto Douro (‘Companhia’), which was entrusted with the regulation of the Port wine production and trading business since its establishment in 1756, constitutes a late example of the chartered trading companies that emerged in Europe during mercantilism. This chapter explores the key features and usages of its double-entry accounting system. We found striking evidence of the accounting system’s contribution to the balancing of interests between the state, shareholders, governors and creditors in such a way as to promote an ‘institutional fit’ that ensured the continuity and sustainability of the Companhia itself. Worthy of notice is the evidence regarding the practice of earnings smoothing, particularly evident after 1784.