Based upon 18th-century records from two civil courts in Turin, the essay intends to define mainstream small credit in an urban setting: besides pawnshops and Jew moneylenders, town stores contributed to the small-credit market by lending small amounts of money and offering payment deferment on loans mostly granted on verbal agreement. The frequent occurrence of agreements based on trust and personal acquaintance gives rise to the problem of different loan opportunities for town members and foreigners. The mechanism governing inclusion into or exclusion from the credit market was also affected by institutions, especially town courts whose function was to validate and strengthen the weakest trading agreements. Starting from this assumption and expounding a few sample cases, the essay finally aims at identifying the critical circumstances that made it necessary to resort to court and formalize agreements that had only been verbal until then.
Keywords: Consumer; credit; early modern history; civil courts; urban marketplace; trust; Turin.