Conf: “The Paper Trade of Early Modern Europe: Practices, Materials, Networks,” Erlangen, 26/27 Feb 2019

The conference “The Paper Trade of Early Modern Europe: Practices, Materials, Networks“ will take place in Erlangen (Germany) from February 26 to 27 2019. This international conference is supported by the German Research Association (DFG) and designed to focus on one of the most essential, lucrative and yet forgotten business activities of early modern Europe: the tradings with paper.

Even though it is a well-known fact within historiography that a lack of paper in the short-term means that no administration records or publications can be produced whatsoever, the history of the paper trade remains one of the least studied areas of early modern history. By bringing together experts from different scholarly perspectives – ranging from (and by no means limited to) early modern history, literary studies, media studies, economic history, communication studies, and book history – this conference aims to prompt discussions about the workings of the paper trade and its impact on the many uses of paper during the period.

As the conference’s title asserts, “The Paper Trade in Early Modern Europe: Practices, Materials, Networks” is designed around three major themes: the practices, materials, and networks of the paper trade. These themes will interconnect the forum’s sections on ‘Hotspots and Trade Routes’, ‘Usual Dealings’, and ‘Recycling Economies’. While providing an opportunity to reposition the commodity ‘paper’ within the interdisciplinary historiography of early modern Europe, this conference will also endeavour to highlight the analytical benefits of studying together the practices, materials, and networks of the paper-trade. A focus on the actual practices of the paper trade opens the door to addressing the social and business activities of the trade’s involved participants. Such an actor- and praxis-orientated approach to the human involvements that made up in sum the practices of the paper trade provides insights into its organizational patterns. What exactly do we know of the cooperative processes of the involved actors responsible for the organization of paper distribution from the paper mills to the various places of (re-)selling, including the places of storage and routes used? Moreover, and more generally, how did collecting, storing, distributing, advertising and the selling of waste and new paper function within the paper trade? Intertwined in these inquiries are questions regarding the materiality of the paper trade. The theme, materials, prompts discussion of the physical story of the commodity ‘paper’ as a good to be sold in differing qualities and limited availability. For example, with regard to the publishing industries of early modern Europe, the prices and availability of various kinds of paper are of particular importance for understanding the material factors involved in the processes of printing and publishing. In a second step, we intend to explore the physical conditions of the trade and transport of paper goods in early modern Europe. As we do not know much of the actual conditions of the material flows of waste and new paper between mills and for example warehouses, apothecaries and print shops, this conference sets out to investigate into this desideratum. As we know that paper did not just ‘travel’ on its own to different destinations, and required many processes, we will investigate these economic operations in more detail: the shipment of paper commodities loaded onto boats and wagons, transported across distances large and small, stored in warehouses, and displayed in various selling places. By studying the physical ins and outs of paper we address the material story of the commodity and its trade within Europe. While a focus on ‘practices’ already lays visible the human interconnections, the theme of networks will expand on this topic further. Setting out to highlight systems of activities within the paper economy, it is a main goal of the conference to use a broad social perspective on the paper trade in order make visible the numerous social actors and their links – for example to the markets of the print industries or to administrations. What were the common characteristics of those involved in the paper trade (paper traders, paper sellers)? The conference aims to identify and highlight evidence regarding the patterns of collective actions within this specific group of people – for example with regard to (trans)regional strategies of collecting, storing, recycling, or selling paper, or respecting the interconnection of the paper trade within other economic activities. Building on recent research within early modern historiography, we aim to investigate the fundamental question regarding paper trade networks of, ‘who did what exactly (and why) for how long and with whom’?

Conference poster (download) / Conference Website (link)

Conference Schedule

26 February

9.00-9.30am  The Paper Trade in Early Modern Europe (Daniel Bellingradt, Erlangen)

Session 1: Hotspots and Trade Routes

9.30-10.10  Selling Paper in Early Modern Venice: Booksellers, Bookbinders, and the “Librari da carta bianca” (Anna Gialdini, London)
10.10-10.40  Early Papermakers and Paper Traders in Sixteenth-Century Frankfurt (Megan Williams, Groningen)

10.40-11.15  Coffee Break

11.15-11.55  The Paper Supply of a Printing House as a Mirror of the Paper Trade in the Early Modern Low Countries: the Case of Dirk Martens’ Workshop (Renaud Adam, Liège)
11.55-12.35  Juan Tomás Fabario and the Paper Trade in Sixteenth-Century Castile (Benito Rial Costas, Madrid)
12.35-1.15  Ream Trail. The Paper Flows Through the Danish Sound, 1600-1850 (Jan Willem Veluwenkamp, Groningen)

1.15-2.30pm  Lunch Break

2.30-3.10  Networks of Paper in Late Medieval England (Orietta da Rold, Cambridge)
3.10-3.50  Water and Wire: the Flow of Paper between the Ottoman Empire and Europe around 1800 (Rebecca Bayram, Birmingham)
3.50-4.30  How To Load A Camel: The Trans-Saharan Trade in Paper to Hausaland and Borno and Its Connections to Europe, c. 1550-1911 (Michaelle M. Biddle, Ann Arbor)

4.30-5.00  Coffee Break

Session 2: Usual dealings

5.00-5:40  Paper Within the Early Modern News Business (Nina Lamal, Antwerp)
5.40-6.20  Types and Sources of Paper in Late Medieval and Early Modern Finland. A Case Study on Paper Trade and the Written Management of Information in Raseborg Castle in 1373-1558 (Tapio Salminen, Tampere)

27 February

9.00-9.40 am  Stationers, Papetiers and the Supply Networks of an Eighteenth-Century Swiss Publisher (Simon Burrows, Sydney)
9.40-10.20  The Usage and Acquisition of Paper in the Jagiellonian Courts, 1490-1507 (Krisztina Rábai, Szeged)
10.20-11.00  The International Castilian Commerce of Paper Through the Port of Laredo During the Reign of Philipp II. (Ramón Bárcena, Santander)

11.-11.30  Coffee Break

11.30-12.10  The Paper Purchases of the Dutch East India Company’s Amsterdam Chamber in the Eighteenth Century (Frank Birkenholz, Groningen)
12.10-12.50   Paper Trails of Guðbrandur Þorláksson: The Paths of Purchasing Paper for the Sixteenth-Century Bishop of Hólar, Iceland(Silvia Veronika Hufnagel, Vienna/Reykjavík)

Session 3: Recycling Economies

2.30-3.10   Material Sensibilities: Paper, Chemistry, and Recycling in the Late Eighteenth Century (Andreas Weber, Twente)
3.10-3.50  Waste Paper in Early Modern England (Anna Reynolds, York)

3.50-4.30  Coffee Break

4.30-5.10  Finding Value in Waste. The Trade of Scrap-Paper in Eighteenth Century Amsterdam (Sandra Zawrel, Erfurt)
5.10-5.50  Mixed Fibres: Recycling and Paper in Eighteenth-Century Edinburgh (Claire Friend, Edinburgh)

The proceedings of the conference will be published in Brill’s series Library of the Written Word, edited by Daniel Bellingradt and Anna Reynolds.


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