Added 25-Nov-2010: Scroll down for an update!
Can someone please tell me what this is? I found it at Les Puces du Canal.
Here's what it looks like upclose (you can click on the photo to enlarge it):
It says in the upper left corner "Quittance d'Entrée". What is a "bill of entrance"?
The certificate itself is only 19cm wide, 12.5cm long. According to the writing, the document is from 1750 (see second line from the bottom, "mil sept cens cinquante").
I figured out the "long s" thing, but there is another letter that doesn't exist in modern French: see the 6th letter of the first word in the 5th line (That's a mouthful. Incidentally, the third letter of that word is a "long s")? It's a "c" with a plume. I'd like to know the history of this, too, but it's obviously a French language thing and I don't know how/where to look.
Update -- I received an e-mail message from a friend; here's what she wrote (copied here with her permission):
...as far as I know, that letter that you're looking at is the "old" "c" or whatever letter was used in old French that then became the c.
The document is kind of a receipt from a tax that was charged at the "Ancien Régime" regarding beverages, generally wine. What I know is that "les droits des cinq sols" is the name of a royal tax on beverages from 1561. It seems that the document is a proof of customs tax that replaced the old tax on beverages called "les droits des cinq sols".
The translation would be more or less like:
Direction (Secretary or Department or Office) of ... Office of ...
I've received from M. Simon ... living at .... street ..... the amount of "four pounds" (whatever they were using as money) for the royal tax on beverages (the droits d'anciends cinq sols), charged at Boiffons, and then it gives the standard (2 fols per pound) just to explain the law, what basis to charge him 4... then says that he paid 4 based on the weight, or measure, then specify the measures of the product, coming from (can't read the place) because the Office of the place that is suppose to be was on holiday (congé), making M. Simon have to detour and pass by this city and have to pay tax on the product that he was carrying & M. declared that he was going to Rue de .... (that's why there was a customs tax) without causing damage to others, or rights or any kind of actions.
Place, date, time and signature.
Basically you had customs tax to transport products from one place to the other, M. Simon from the document went to his usual place and they were on holiday so he had to go to a different place and pay the "entrance fee" to be able to cross that place.
Isn't this wonderful???
Here's an old -- really old -- piece of paper. Someone bothered to keep it, or perhaps it wasn't meant to be kept for more than five years or so, but it happened to be kept somewhere. Then someone else found it and bothered to frame it nicely. And I, just a foreigner passing by, chanced upon it and get a history lesson and a chuckle out of it.
I mean, I can just picture M. Simon cursing and muttering to himself, "Dang! They're closed! Now I have to make a detour! This is going to add an extra day to my trip. And I'm already two days behind!"
It is so delicious and delightful.
On a totally different note.... The source of this information is a young lady from Brazil who's studying law in France. This sentence I just typed makes it obiouvs that she handles three languages at a highly complex level (the quote from her e-mail above is verbatim), and I feel compelled to add that she also speaks Spanish. Please don't tell me Spanish is similar to Portuguese; there are notable differences and she had to learn it.
The fact that she can have intelligent conversations in four languages -- that alone is enough to impress me, but now she tells me she had a history/theology double major in college.
I'm trying not to feel completely inadequate.
Added note (26-Nov-2010): My friend sent in correction/clarification. Hers wasn't a double major. Her major was theology, and her mémoire (thesis) was specialized in history. Well, I'm still impressed. Wouldn't you be????