Technology in decline: a search for useful concepts: The case of the Dutch madder industry in the nineteenth century

Anthony S. Travis, Willem J. Hornix, Robert Bud, Johan Schot

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Until late in the nineteenth century, madder was the most popular natural red dye. Holland was the largest and best-known supplier. As early as the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the province of Zeeland and adjoining parts of the provinces of South Holland and Brabant developed into important producers. In the course of the seventeenth century these areas even succeeded in acquiring a monopoly position. Early in the nineteenth century, however, this position came under attack because France had gone over to industrial production methods from around 1800, whereas Holland continued to produce with craft technologies. After 1820, as a result, a period of stagnation and decay set in. The fate of the Dutch madder industry would have been completely sealed if the production capacity of the French factories had been sufficiently large to satisfy the great increase in demand. Consequently, in Holland, after 1845, a process of revival based upon the French manufacturing methods began slowly and hesitatingly. This process started too late and was not persevered with sufficiently to regain lost markets. The Dutch producers remained strongly attached to their own out-dated, craft methods of production.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5-26
    Number of pages22
    JournalBritish journal for the history of science
    Volume25
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1992

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