In contemporary society it would seem self-evident that people allow the market to determine the values of products and services. For everything from a loaf of bread to a work of art to a simple haircut, value is expressed in monetary terms and seen as determined primarily by the 'objective' interplay between supply and demand. Yet this 'price-mechanism' is itself embedded in conventions and frames of reference which differed according to time, place and product type. Moreover, the dominance of the conventions of utility maximising and calculative homo economicus is a relatively new phenomenon, and one which directly correlates to the steady advent of capitalism in early modern Europe. This volume brings together scholars with expertise in a variety of related fields, including economic history, the history of consumption and material culture, art history, and the history of collecting, to explore changing concepts of value from the early modern period to the nineteenth century and present a new view on the advent of modern economic practices. Jointly, they fundamentally challenge traditional historical narratives about the rise of our contemporary market economy and consumer society.
Bert De Munck is a Professor in the Department of History at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. He is a member of the Centre for Urban History at the same university and Director of both the interdisciplinary Urban Studies Institute and the Scientific Research Community (WOG) ’Urban Agency. Setting the Research Agenda of Urban History’. His publications include Innovation and Creativity in Late Medieval and Early Modern European Cities (2014, co-edited with Karel Davids); Gated Communities? Regulating Migration in Early Modern Cities (2012, co-edited with Anne Winter); Technologies of Learning: Apprenticeship in Antwerp from the 15th Century to the End of the Ancien Régime (2007); and Learning on the Shop Floor: Historical Perspectives on Apprenticeship (2007, co-edited with Hugo Soly and Steven L. Kaplan). Dries Lyna is an Assistant Professor of History at the Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands. His areas of interest include the history of urban economies, material culture and art markets of the Low Countries, from the late seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. He has received fellowships and awards from the Fulbright Commission, the Getty Research Institute, the International Economic History Association and the Belgian American Educational Foundation. His publications include Art Auctions and Dealers: The Dissemination of Netherlandish Art during the Ancien Régime (2009, co-edited with Filip Vermeylen and Hans Vlieghe); and Art Crossing Borders: The International Art Market in the Age of Nation States, 1760-1914 (forthcoming, co-edited with Jan Baetens).