The term "clerk", like "merchant", covers a wide range of endeavor. Indeed, qualifications needed for success as a clerk were much like that of the merchant as detailed by Postlethwayt in The Merchant's Public Counting House (1750): some acquaintance with the commodities of trade, command of foreign languages, knowledge of bookkeeping, shipping, foreign weights and measures, tariffs, foreign exchange, and the stock and produce markets.
No one clerk, as no one merchant, could have complete command of all these particulars and so specialization in trade and commerce took place. For one aspiring to the merchant or trader class, or one of the specialized commercial adjuncts, a term, usually as apprentice, as a clerk in the countinghouse was to be expected.
Thus, the clerk was no lowly scrivner, though some there might be. From the ranks of the clerk came literary notables such as Charles Lamb, the insurance brokers of England, and many of the trading partners of North America's North West Company, the largest fur company in the world during it's time in the late 18th and early 19th century.
The Clerk is available for presentations regarding the life of the clerk, the fur trade of the North West Company, accounting and paperwork of the era as it relates to the fur trade. The Clerk's skills are also demonstrated by way of the cutting of quills and the manufacture of ink using the correct recipe of the 18th century.
North American Voyageurs Council Fall Gathering a month away
The North America Voyageurs' Council annual Fall Gathering is just a month away. For those of you who have attended, you know the wide range of workshops available, not only on the fur trade but relating to 18th century living, Native peoples, and so on. For those of you who have not attended before, this is a chance to meet interpreters and reenactors from all over the Midwest and Canada (and Alaska and New York, you get the idea), and discover the rich resources of talent and knowledge NAVC gathers each year.
And at a cost of $85 (which includes a $10 yearly membership) that includes your food, lodging, all this knowledge (a few workshops with hands on "take away" projects have minimal materials fees), you can't go wrong!