University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Financial History Seminar >  'Quicksilver Production and Consumption in Early Modern Europe: Reflections on Premodern Commodity and Financial Markets in the Second Phase of Globalization.'

'Quicksilver Production and Consumption in Early Modern Europe: Reflections on Premodern Commodity and Financial Markets in the Second Phase of Globalization.'

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This paper begins with a question born of a bankruptcy. In 1529, Ambrosius and Hans, the Brothers Höchstetter and Associates, one of the largest merchant-banking houses in Europe of its day, ceased payments after a failed attempt to corner the world market in quicksilver. Why did quicksilver lend itself to monopoly control, and why did the attraction prove fatal? Answers to these questions can be found by considering the institutional and technological constraints that determined production and consumption of this commodity in the early modern period. The results encourage reflections both on the limitations of the price mechanism as a metric for globalization and on the influence of state finance on early modern industry.

This talk is part of the Financial History Seminar series.

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