Abstract: Saving without Banks? Rural Creditors on Both Sides of the Gulf of Bothnia, 1796-1830

Tiina Hemminki


In the early nineteenth century the whole concept of saving was understood differently on both sides of the Gulf of Bothnia. Rural communities in these areas got their first official banking institutions in the late nineteenth century. Those freeholder peasants with surplus funds had few ways to conserve their capital: by storing in chests, by investing, or by lending. The latter option required trust between partners and formal means of lending made the creditors really see their savings as more secure. In the early nineteenth century, credit markets were more informal than formal, part of everyday life and intertwined relationships. Formal lending can be seen as one of the first signs of official banking institutions, but there were more. Parishes, granaries, and so-called ''parish bankers'' made the credit markets more formal, thereby creating the prerequisites for the official banks of the future.