Venice
units of capacity for wine, 19th century

For Venetian measures of oil, see miro and migliao.

The old wine measures of Venice have given the writers of merchant manuals trouble for several centuries. Paucton, after stating that the anfora = 2 bigoncia = 4 mastelli = 336.8 pinte de Paris (about 320.4 liters), adds (translated) “I also found the following reports, which seem at fault: Anfora = 4 bigoncie = 8 mastelli = 56 secchie = 224 bozze.”

1. Paucton, 1780, page 809.

An official publication² of 1809, after the Italian adoption of the hectoliter under the name soma, described Venice's old wine measures as:

         

burchio

       

botte

60

     

anfora

75

   

mastello

8

10

600

 

barila

⁷⁄₆

9¹⁄₃

10²⁄₃

700

secchi

6

7

56

70

4200

10.731
L

64.386
L

75.12
L

600.9
L

751.2
L

45,070.2
L

The magnitudes of the secchi and barila are given in the Tavole; the others we calculated from the ratios. As can be seen, their anfora is much closer to the value Paucton rejected than the one he reported.

2. Tavole di Ragguaglio fra le nuove e le antiche misure e fra i nuovi e gli antichi pesi del Regno D'Italia pubblicate per ordine del Governo. Vol 2.
Milano: Dalla Stamperia Reale, 1809.
Pages ix, x, 271 and 272.

In 1840 Horace Doursther published his highly-influential Dictionnaire Universel des Poids et Mesures,² which provides the following information on Venetian liquid measure:

anfora

biconcia

4

concia or mastello

2

8

secchio

6

12

48

bozza

4

24

48

192

boccale

2 2/3

10 2/3

64

128

512

quartuccio

4

16

96

192

768

675
mL

1.012
L

2.7
L

10.80
L

64.80
L

129.6
L

518.4
L

Doursther refers "anfora" to "amphore", but that entry (page 15) does not mention the Venetian measure. We have calculated the anfora's size from his ratios, and the result is significantly smaller than the 1809 value. So is his mastello, while the secchio is basically the same as the 1809 value.

Doursther remarks that, following "Petters, le mastello = 7 secchi = 28 bozze, 75.10 liters", without identifying who Petters is.

A clue to the source of the confusion regarding whether the mastello is 6 or 7 secchi may be found in a text³ published in 1637:

Wines are sold in Venetia two wayes, either in grosse, or by retaile, the grosse by the Amphora and Bigonsa, and by retaile, by the Quart, the Sachio, and Lire, where note that the Amphora is foure Bigonsa, and the bigonsa is 4. quarts, and 1. quart is 4 sachi, and 1. sachi is 4. liras or pounds, but buying the same in gross, that is by the Amphora and the Sachio, 1. Amphora is 14.quarts, and 1. bigonsa is 3 .quarets and halfe.

Charting Roberts description:

       

amphora

              

amphora

     

bigonsa

4

       

bigonsa

4

   

quart

4

16

     

quart

14

 

sachi

4

16

64

   

sachi

4

14

 

lire

4

16

64

256

 

lire

 

 

 

 

retail trade     wholesale trade

2. Doursther, 1840. Pages 54, 56, 70, 258, 456, 482.

3. Lewes Roberts page 71.

                     

burchio

                   

botte

60

                 

anfora

   
               

bigoncia

4

   
             

concia or mastello

2

8

10

 
           

barila

         
         

secchia

6

7

12

48

   
       

bozza

4

24

24

48

192

   
     

boccale

2 2/3

10 2/3

 

64

128

512

   
   

quartuccio

4

16

 

96

192

768

   
 

gotti

4

                 

Martini

                     

Martini

675
mL

1.012
L

2.68
L

10.80
L

 

75.12
L

150.23
L

600.94
L

751.17
L

45,070.2
L

Doursther says 6; Martini says 7

Martini, 1883, page 818.

In 1887 another set of tables of official conversions was published. Here the 6 or 7 problem is handled.

   

barila

 

secchi

6

bozze

4

24


L

10.73
L

64.3859
L

   

mastello

 

secchi

7

bozze or boccale

4

28


L

10.73
L

75.1170
L

     

burchio

   

botte

60

 

anfora

75

mastello

8

10

600

       

within the province of Venezia subdivided the secchi into bozze, others into boccali, while in some, including Venice proper, the terms were synonymous. See mostello.

x. Tavole
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