Making Metal Making : Circulation and Workshop Practices in the Swedish Metal Trades, 1730–1775

Sammanfattning: This dissertation is concerned with the making of metal making. It explores how skills, knowledge, and artefacts were circulated and grounded within the Swedish metal trades during the period ca. 1730 to 1775. It also analyses how these processes were related to different ways of organising practices of work. The metal trades are referred to as comprising various forms of state-supported metal manufacturing outside the guild system. The focus is on finer metal making (finsmide), above all cutlery making. The first chapter discusses the theoretical and methodological approaches. Critical to the analysis are the terms strategies and tactics, which are used to approach the interplay of different ways of knowing and acting in everyday metal making. This is done related to a trajectorial method. The trajectories of state official Samuel Schröder and the Stockholm cutler Eric Engberg are centred, but I also explore one broader skills-trajectory: the ‘English way’ of making cutlery.Chapters 2 to 4 examine the strategic stage for metal making, focusing on the attempts made by the eighteenth-century Swedish state to order the domestic trades in line with ideas of an all-embracing division of labour. This development is investigated by discussing regulations, spatial mapping and supervision, as well as descriptions and ‘corrections’ of workshop practices. Chapters 5 to 7 highlight the interplay of strategies and tactics within a changing manufacturing ‘system’. Artisans’ journeys, the construction of workshops in Stockholm, and the introduction of piecework at provincial knife works during the 1750s and 1760s are explored. The discussion leads up to the founding of a ‘free town’ for metal-making artisans in Eskilstuna in 1771.The results of this dissertation add to Swedish research on early-modern metal making in a number of ways. Urban space and the connections between metal-making communities are highlighted. In doing this, emphasis is placed on how practices of work were shaped over time by the movements of people, artefacts, and materials. Most notably, the circulation, imitation, and local adaption of knowledge and skills within the metal trades are accentuated. These findings also connect to recent research concerned with manufacturing and knowledge-making in pre-industrial Europe.