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Museum of Music Archive Collections

Gand, Bernardel, Caressa and Français Archive Collection

General Ledgers

General ledgers are accounting documents regrouping financial transactions per account (clients, suppliers etc.), as opposed to chronological listing in journals.

General ledgers from the Gand, Bernardel, Caressa and Français collection cover years 1816 to 1923 in a quasi-continuous manner. Only years 1831 to 1839 are missing.

They were completed as needs occurred, and accounts are not in a logical order. One must refer to the directories index to identify all pages or folios

Example of a General Ledger

General ledgers page layout evolves throughout the years, but their structure generally remains similar to the following:

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1- Account holder
« Mr Wilmotte à Anvers »
"Mr Wilmotte in Anvers"


2- Report
« Report du folio 551 »
"Report of folio 551"
When an account covers several pages, sums previously recorded
as debit and credit are carried forward to locate the latest


3- Detail of transactions done by or for the account holder
« 1879 Mars 1er : réparation d’un violon Stradivarius 1700. 283 – 1878. 100 [F.] / Olives or aux chevilles. 10 [F.] »
"1st March, 1879: repair of a Stradivarius violin 1700. 283 – 1878. 100 [F.] / Gold adornments added to tuning pegs. 10 [F.]" 


4- Account Debit
« Doit : 2 239,50 [F.] »
"Due: 2 239.50 [F.]"
This column records sums paid in advance by the workshop as well as services
or products received by the client and not paid yet.


5- Account credit
« Avoir : 2 000 [F.] »
"Credit voucher : 2 000 [F.]" The column totals sums paid by the account holder to the workshop.

Double-Entry Accounting

Workshop bookkeeping follows double-entry accounting principles.
In this system, operations (purchase, sale, repair etc.) are portrayed as value movements between several accounts – representing the firm’s clients and suppliers, or a value – e.g. goods or cash register. Thus, an instrument purchase is recorded as money transfer between cash register and client accounts.
For each account, movements (received or given value) are recorded in a two-part graph: left, what is received (called "Doit" (due) or "Débit") and right, what is given (called "Avoir" (credit voucher) or "Crédit"). When a client pays for an instrument, the transaction value is recorded as cash register account debit and client credit.
Any value registered as debit on an account incurs credit on another, and if no mistake was made, "debit" and "credit" column totals remain identical within a same document group (journals, account ledgers etc.).