Commercial Visions

Science, Trade, and Visual Culture in the Dutch Golden Age

Dániel Margócsy

Commercial Visions
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Dániel Margócsy

336 pages | 32 color plates, 39 halftones, 3 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Cloth $40.00 ISBN: 9780226117744 Will Publish October 2014
E-book $32.00 ISBN: 9780226117881 Will Publish October 2014
Entrepreneurial science is not new; business interests have strongly influenced science since the Scientific Revolution. In Commercial Visions, Dániel Margócsy illustrates that product marketing, patent litigation, and even ghostwriting pervaded natural history and medicine—the “big sciences” of the early modern era—and argues that the growth of global trade during the Dutch Golden Age gave rise to an entrepreneurial network of transnational science.
Margócsy introduces a number of natural historians, physicians, and curiosi in Amsterdam, London, St. Petersburg, and Paris who, in their efforts to boost their trade, developed modern taxonomy, invented color printing and anatomical preparation techniques, and contributed to philosophical debates on topics ranging from human anatomy to Newtonian optics. These scientific practitioners, including Frederik Ruysch and Albertus Seba, were out to do business: they produced and sold exotic curiosities, anatomical prints, preserved specimens, and atlases of natural history to customers all around the world. Margócsy reveals how their entrepreneurial rivalries transformed the scholarly world of the Republic of Letters into a competitive marketplace.
Margócsy’s highly readable and engaging book will be warmly welcomed by anyone interested in early modern science, global trade, art, and culture.
Harold J. Cook, Brown University
“Money and science have long been connected. Scientific activity needs to be paid for, but at times it can also turn into a nice little earner. As science became more materialistic, one of the most important tools for investigation became the ability to picture phenomena. In excavating how that happened in the early stages of the Scientific Revolution, in one of the most commercialized regions of Europe, Margócsy’s book makes a major contribution to the histories of science and of art.”

List of Illustrations

Chapter I. Baron von Uffenbach Goes on a Trip: The Infrastructure of International Science
Chapter II. Shipping Costs, the Exchange of Specimens, and the Development of Taxonomy
Chapter III. Image as Capital: Forging Albertus Seba’s Thesaurus
Chapter IV. Anatomical Specimens in the Republic of Letters: Scientific Publications as Marketing Tools
Chapter V. Commercial Epistemologies: The Anatomical Debates of Frederik Ruysch and Govard Bidloo
Chapter VI. Knowledge as Commodity: The Invention of Color Printing
Chapter VII. Peter the Great on a Shopping Spree


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