Fig. 5. Sample calendar page from The Universal Calendar and North American Almanack for 1792. Courtesy of the author.
Just as its calendar encouraged users to convert the almanac into a personal timepiece, its financial features prompted them to think of it as an ad hoc account book. In addition to interest tables, almanacs served up tables and charts to assist customers in knowing how much money they had in their pockets. That could be an especially complicated proposition in the decades following the American Revolution when paper money, both as U.S. dollars and English pounds, mixed with gold and silver coins as legal tender. Almanac compiler Andrew Beers responded accordingly offering his customers in his 1799 Beers’s Almanac, no fewer than four tables, with copious footnotes, to assist in those conversions. Among them was a table “Shewing the value of any number of Cents in Lawful Money, from 1 to 100” and another “Shewing the value of any number of Pence from 1 Penny to 6 Shillings, in Cents and Mills.” On the next page, Beers reserved the bottom half for two more tables, one displaying the value of Portuguese and English gold in dollars and


Welcome to Commonplace, a destination for exploring and exchanging ideas about early American history and culture. A bit less formal than a scholarly journal, a bit more scholarly than a popular magazine, Commonplace speaks—and listens—to scholars, museum curators, teachers, hobbyists, and just about anyone interested in American history before 1900. It is for all sorts of people to read about all sorts of things relating to early American life—from architecture to literature, from politics to parlor manners. It’s a place to find insightful analysis of early American history as it is discussed in scholarly literature, as it manifests on the evening news, as it is curated in museums, big and small; as it is performed in documentary and dramatic films and as it shows up in everyday life.

In addition to critical evaluations of books and websites (Reviews) and poetic research and fiction (Creative Writing), our articles explore material and visual culture (Objects); pedagogy, the writing of literary scholarship, and the historian’s craft (Teach); and diverse aspects of America’s past and its many peoples (Learn). For more great content, check out our other projects, (Just Teach One) and (Just Teach One African American Print).


How to cite Commonplace articles:

Author, “Title of Article,” Commonplace: the journal of early American life, date accessed, URL.

Sophie White, “Trading Looks Race, Religion and Dress in French America,” Commonplace: the journal of early American life, accessed September 30, 2019, https://commonplace.online/article/trading-looks-race-religion-dress-french-america/


Joshua R. Greenberg, editor


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