Ogilvie S. (2001) The economic world of the Bohemian serf

June 30, 2009

Ogilvie, Sheilagh (2001) “The Economic World of the Bohemian Serf: Economic Concepts, Preferences, and Constraints on the Estate of Friedland, 1583-1692”, The Economic History Review, 54/3, 430-453.

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Economic backwardness in the countryside now and then has often been explained by the peasants’ wholly different decision-making process for economic-related activities. The rural dwellers are said to “lack the concept of costs and profits, and abhor markets, money, and individual gain” (p.430). They’re reputed irrational (p.431).

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Looking back

June 29, 2009

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Don’t believe economists… ever!

Park M. (2003) Guilds and the art market

June 28, 2009

Park, Maarteen (2003) “Guilds and the Development of the Art Market during the Dutch Golden Age”, Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art, 30/3, 236-251.

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The rise of Dutch painting in the 17th century is contemporary with a dramatic expansion of the corporate system (p.236). Traditional art history sees the success of Dutch painting as a reaction against the highly idealized representation of the world provided by Italian art. Economic historians on the other hand have insisted “market forces helped shape, if not caused, the development of Dutch painting”. But supply-side factors may also have had a part in the process; guilds provided a type of organization that influenced Dutch painting. Read the rest of this entry »

The City of London and the slave trade

June 27, 2009

Front page of the FT this week end:

Rothschild and Freshfields founders had links to slavery, papers reveal

By Carola Hoyos

Published: June 26 2009 23:32 | Last updated: June 26 2009 23:32

Two of the biggest names in the City of London had previously undisclosed links to slavery in the British colonies, documents seen by the Financial Times have revealed.

Nathan Mayer Rothschild, the banking family’s 19th-century patriarch, and James William Freshfield, founder of Freshfields, the top City law firm, benefited financially from slavery, records from the National Archives show, even though both have often been portrayed as opponents of slavery.

Far from being a matter of distant history, slavery remains a highly contentious issue in the US, where Rothschild and Freshfields are both active. Read the rest of this entry »

Daudin G. (2008) Is my market bigger than yours?

June 20, 2009

Daudin Guillaume (2008) “Domestic trade and market size in late eighteen-century France”, Oxford University: Discussion Papers in Economic and Social History, 32p.

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This article is available on line


The sheer size of the British market is rarely assumed to be a major explanation of the Industrial Revolution. Britons were less numerous than many other people on the continent but low transportation costs and higher density may have created a more integrated economy and thus a larger market. In this paper, the author uses the Tableaux du Maximum (statistics collected in 1794) to estimate whether France was significantly less integrated than England (p.2). Read the rest of this entry »

Web shopping: On “Taking Stock”

June 17, 2009

Marketplace is an American Public Media production that caught my attention some months ago, due to the quality of the contents.

Now, courtesy of Felix Salmon, I found out that Marketplace has a special series, Taking Stock, where economists give their point of view on the current economic situation.

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Job offer

June 17, 2009

Inspired by Manuel, I’m posting some useful info for once, here is a job offer from the LSE for two part-time fellows: Read the rest of this entry »

Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait in Painter’s Costume (c.1660-1662)

June 14, 2009

I often leave museums unsatisfied. True, I have enjoyed the beautiful objects presented but I have the feeling that the insight they could give me into the object’s period has been neglected. A painting by Uccello for instance is not only valuable for its artistic value but also as a witness of its time. Its size, its price, its mode of production, the clientele it was made for, its components are all valuable clues to understand a culture and an economy that are long-gone.
Thankfully, the book A Wordly Art. The Dutch Republic 1585-1718 by Mariët Westermann offers us an introduction into one of the richest periods of art history. I will devote several of the coming posts to some Dutch paintings used as sources for economic history.


Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait in Painter’s Costume is one of the abnormally numerous depictions of the artist by himself. Even though the sheer amount of Rembrandt’s self-portraits is exceptional, it is also symptomatic of a period when the individuality of the artist was a newly recognized value. Many 17th-century Netherlandish painters went out of their way to apply their trademark on their work. Unsurprisingly, the habit to sign one’s work spread at that time. Read the rest of this entry »

Maitte C. (2009) Migration and secrets of the glass-making communities

June 13, 2009

Maitte, Corine (2009) Les Chemins de verre. Les migrations des verriers d’Altare et de Venise (XVIe-XIXe siècles), chap. 7, Migrer et livrer ses secrets? Secrets et transmission technique, Rennes: Presses Universitaire de Rennes, p.201-238.

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The first book dedicated to the “secrets” of glass-making was published in 1612 by the Italian priest Antonio Neri (p.202). Numerous authors during the 16th century had undertaken to reveal the secrets of several industries, in particular metallurgy but alchemy (p.203).  These books had theoretically the ability to go beyond the usual oral father-to-son or master-to-apprentice transmission of techniques (p.206). Read the rest of this entry »

Web shopping

June 11, 2009

According to the New York Times, faced with the competition of such luminaries as Feminist studies and Chicano studies (racial history is in my opinion an insult to intelligence… anyway) only 32% of US colleges offered classes of economic history in 2005, down from 52% in 1975. Oddly enough it is argued that economic hstory doesn’t represent enough the oppressed classes of society while on the countrary EH is one of the rare fields in social sciences where every one is given a chance to matter as much as Ceasar or Napoleon. Depressing.

The Enlightened Economist has something about Robert Allen’s book.

Meanwhile a debate about the roots of the present crisis is going on and creating some seriously interesting articles in the process: Krugman starts by saying that Reagan did it, Robert Schher answers that he didn’t (in the Nation of all places),  and William Greider agrees (with Robert Scheer). At the same time Krugman starts another fight, he opposes Niall Ferguson views on inflation, to which Ferguson answers and FT columnist Gideon Rachman presents himself as the referee of this economist v. historian match.

More next time…

This Week in Economic History (June 8-14th, 2009)

June 8, 2009

On Monday begins a conference on Euro-Pop: The Consumption and Production of a European Popular Culture in the 20th Century in the German-Italian Centre Villa Vigoni, at Lake Como, Italy. You can contact Patrick Merziger (p.merziger@fu-berlin.de) or Klaus Nathaus (klaus.nathaus@uni-bielefeld.de) if you are interested. This conference will last till Thursday.

On Tuesday, there will be a Workshop on Monetary Policy, interest rate rules and the functioning of the Money Market at Université Paris Dauphine. You can contact Rebeca Gomez Betancourt (rebecagomez@gmail.com) if you need more information on it.

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Web shopping

June 2, 2009

This time, Brad Delong has overdone his geeky self (again): his latest work on issu.

The Guardian runs a ridiculous story on “White Slavery in North Africa”, based on Robert Davis’ new book, I’d like to comment on it:

  • It is not a racial issue, the “slaves” where never defined as white but as Christians. Converting to Islam was often enough to set one free. In Europe, Muslims were used in the galleys, including former Christians who had become Muslims.
  • The term of slave is not appropriated since unlike those in Rome or in the America, those who were taken away could and often were bought back by their family, their government or charitable institutions. We should define them as captive.
  • The impact on Europe may have been important, specially in the most exposed areas (Malta, Southern Spain, etc.) but then again, the Christian powers themselves used Christian bonded rawmen, for instance the Genoan admiral Andrea Doria used the prisoners from several Spanish and Italian jails.
  • Finally, the journalist of the Guardian should learn how to read since I suspect Robert Davis never said that eastern Europeans weren’t Christians (they’re not Catholic, but they are Christian), nor did he described the jails the captives were parked in – the baños – as… baths!

And Leonardo Monastero finds yet another über cool website.