Customs Books

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Customs books (tamozhennye knigi ) were official registers of customs and other revenues collected at customs offices between the sixteenth and the mid-eighteenth centuries, and often a source of data on expenditures by the customs administration.

Typical entries in a customs book list the quantities and values of the commodities carried by a given merchant. In addition, they usually give the name, rank, origin, and destination of each merchant. Customs records often include separate sections on particular "special" commodities, such as liquor, horses, cattle, grain, or treasury goods.

All Russian towns, as well as many smaller communities, kept records of all trade passing through them. A total of some 190 seventeenth-century customs books have survived to this day.

Although the collection has been repeatedly decimated over time, varying numbers of customs books still exist for fifty cities in European Russia and for most of the Siberian fortress towns, virtually all of them dated between 1626 and 1686. The best-preserved collections of early modern customs data are for the Southern Frontier, the Northern Dvina waterway, and the Siberian fortress towns. In contrast, practically all the information of the key commercial centers of Moscow, Yaroslavl', Arkhangel'sk, and Novgorod, among others, has been lost.

For the early eighteenth century, customs data pertaining to some 300 towns have survived. Dated from 1714 to 1750, 142 books survive in the collections of the Kamer-kollegia. The most important collections are for Moscow, Northern Russia, and the Southern Frontier. The practice of compiling customs books was discontinued following the abolition of internal customs points in 1754.

See also: foreign trade; merchants


Hellie, Richard. (1999). The Economy and Material Culture of Russia, 16001725. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Jarmo T. Kotilaine