“The cheapest things are bought in India; as much labour or manufacture may be had there for two pence as in England for a shilling. The carriage there is dear, the customs are high, the merchant has great gains, and so has the retailer; yet still with all this charge, the Indians are a great deal cheaper than equal English manufacture.”
— Sir Dudley North, “Considerations upon the East India Trade” (1701)
7 thoughts on “Before Ikea”
Just goes to show that there is nothing new under the sun.
“… the Indians are a great deal cheaper than equal English manufacture.”
You need to remember that Indian manufacture was in many areas _superior_ to English manufacture at that time; and especially in textiles, the English successfully closed down the industry in India in the 19th century to allow English textiles to swamp the Indian market. So comparisons with the 21st century are invalid, and probably back to front, ie the English were inferior to the Indians (but not in political bastardry at which the English excelled).
Merry Christmas, Chris and the rest of the Lost Art Press gang!!!!!!!
It is a distinct pleasure to be a part of the Lost Art Press community.
Merry Christmas to all.
I’d also extend a warm and heart felt thanks to Chris, his family, and Lost Art Press for another great year of good reads, instruction, inspiration and laughs. If a man is rich in proportion to the number of friends he can count, then Chris may be the richest man I know. Merry Christmas Chris to you and yours. May the new year bring you nothing but happiness, contentment and success.
Interesting parallel! I have a #8 jointer plane by Anant that I keep as a reminder not to buy cheap junk. I have spent hours trying to lap the sole flat, and the quality of the casting is completely inferior to Veritas or Lie-Nielsen. I originally bought it based on the online comment from a certain internet retailer that I had purchased quality tools from before who compared Anant favorably with the now-defunct Record. I shall not make that mistake again!!!
The other interesting parallel here is that the guilds in England, like the unions here in the USA had driven the cost of manufacturing out of sight. Lest someone think I’m anti-union, I’m not. Conditions here in the US demanded the formation of unions to gain badly needed rights for workers who were being horribly abused. There is a balance point however between wages and profits, and somehow it’s become evil for a large company to make a profit. Personally I favor a system where the employees are incented (in addition to wages) based on the profit a company makes. I haven’t seen that done yet. I’ve seen stock options, which is not the same thing at all. The market doesn’t operate on logic based on profitability so that doesn’t work. I’ve seen (and experienced) too many times where the company made a very healthy profit year after year and the stock price stayed flat so my options were worthless from an incentive perspective.
On a brighter note, Merry Christmas (or Happy Holiday of your choice) and may one and all have a happy, prosperous, safe, and healthy New Year filled with woodworking projects, and wisdom timeless and new (not just of the woodworking variety). This is truly a great blog to follow, and Chris has got to be my all-time favorite woodworking author. I had never heard of a lambs-tongue before, and since I expect to be building a Moxon twin-screw vise very soon, I’ll have to learn how to make it!
Cheers and well-wishes to all!
Adam Smith recognized that labor became cheaper the farther you were from “great towns,” and that it was cheaper to produce goods in the hinterland. Not too far removed from what Sir Dudley North wrote above, Smith declared “that man is, of all sorts of luggage, the most difficult to be transported.” Taken as a whole, corporations don’t treat people any different now than they did in the eighteenth century.
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