Brand Names Before the Industrial Revolution
AbstractIn medieval Europe, manufacturers sold durable goods to anonymous consumers in distant markets, this essay argues, by making products with conspicuous characteristics. Examples of these unique, observable traits included cloth of distinctive colors, fabric with unmistakable weaves, and pewter that resonated at a particular pitch. These attributes identified merchandise because consumers could observe them readily, but counterfeiters could copy them only at great cost, if at all. Conspicuous characteristics fulfilled many of the functions that patents, trademarks, and brand names do today. The words that referred to products with conspicuous characteristics served as brand names in the Middle Ages. Data drawn from an array of industries corroborates this conjecture. The abundance of evidence suggests that conspicuous characteristics played a key role in the expansion of manufacturing before the Industrial Revolution.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13930.
Date of creation: Apr 2008
Date of revision:
Note: DAE IO
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Other versions of this item:
- L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
- L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
- N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
- N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation
- N6 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction
- O14 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
- O34 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Technological Change; Research and Development; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
- O5 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-04-15 (All new papers)
- NEP-HIS-2008-04-15 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
- NEP-IND-2008-04-15 (Industrial Organization)
- NEP-MKT-2008-04-15 (Marketing)
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- Häckner, Jonas & Muren, Astri, 2012. "Counterfeiting and Consumption Externalities - A Closer Look," Research Papers in Economics 2012:2, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
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- Gary Richardson & Michael McBride, 2008. "Religion, Longevity, and Cooperation: The Case of the Craft Guild," NBER Working Papers 14004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2007. "'Whatever Is, Is Right'?, Economic Institutions in Pre-Industrial Europe (Tawney Lecture 2006)," CESifo Working Paper Series 2066, CESifo Group Munich.
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