Very little research has been done on the very wealthy of Argentina between the late colonial period and the beginning of the Second World War. Many assumptions have been floated around but none based on much substance. Roy Hora’s investigation is therefore useful in deconstructing the truth concerning Argentina’s wealthy ‘classes’. In the earlier period the merchant classes, rather than landowners, seem to have been able to build up the most wealth but by the end of the nineteenth century industrialists had over taken both landowners and merchants, especially in Buenos Aeries. Hora bases his research on probate records which – whilst still holding difficulties for the historian – are more reliable as the nature of tax in Argentina in this period meant that the wealthy had little need to hide their wealth from official records. Of course, the records only account for wealth at death, which is a limitation to the evidence as the elderly tend to act differently with money than the young or middle aged. In general, Hora’s research has revealed a group of people previously hidden away in shadows and has shown that changes in scale and structure of fortunes between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries transformed greatly moving from one group to another with some rapidity.
Latin American History 15 November 2011 Roy Hora (Universidad Nacional de Quilmes/Conicet, Argentina) Great wealth in Argentina, 1810-1930