The Complete Tradesman A Study of Retailing, 1550–1820
The Complete Tradesman redresses the relative paucity of studies on the history of retailing before 1800. Based upon extensive research into diverse trade sources, Cox takes issue with the surprisingly resilient stereotype of the 'dull' and 'out of date' shopkeeper in the early modern period, showing that the retailing sector was well adapted to the social and economic needs of the day and quick to exploit new opportunities. Chapters cover not only distribution, shop design, customer relations and networks between tradesmen, but also attitudes to retailing, official controls, and the response to novelty. By throwing light on subjects hitherto overlooked and challenging existing whiggish preoccupations with progress towards modern retailing systems, this study signals a new approach to the history of retailing. The focus is placed on assessing how far tradesmen, especially shopkeepers, satisfied and stimulated contemporary desires for consumer goods.
'Cox ... joins other scholars to reject both old and recent claims that the story of retailing before the 19th century is dull...Cox's style is fluid and the volume is handsomely produced, with a useful index and bibliography.' Choice '...(an) excellent analysis of English retailing...a valuable addition to the literature...she paints a detailed and vivid picture.... Nancy Cox has written a marvelous book and has added much to our knowledge of early modern retailing. She has not only presented us with a wealth of evidence, but also encouraged us to think in a fresh and more sensitive way about retail history and about retail tradesmen.' Albion