The research presented in this book was hatched and grown in the nurturing and stimulating environment of Hans Ulrich Vogel’s Deutsche Forschungsge‑ meinschaft-funded research group “Monies, Markets, and Finance in China and East Asia, 1600–1900: Local, Regional, National and International Dimensions” from 2006 to 2011.

It is with great pleasure that I can here express my thanks to all members of the research group and its collaborators who enriched me through sharing their extensive experience in the fields of social, economic, intellectual, technological, and environmental history, as well as historical, human, and physical geography in East Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

I am especially indebted to Hans-Joachim Rosner and Stefan Dieball for instructing me in GIS and spatial analysis, as well as joining forces to conduct fieldwork; to Elisabeth Kaske for discussing issues in economic history, for bearing with my inclination to chat and eat in our shared office, and for true friendship; to Chen Hailian, Thomas Hirzel, and Cao Jin for exchanging insights in and materials on mining and transport; and to Werner Burger for generously sharing his vast knowledge of historic coins and moneys.

Hans Ulrich Vogel’s composition and organisation of the research group opened up new approaches for interdisciplinary exchange with Hans-Joachim Rosner’s team of geographers, while workshops offered opportunities for intensive exchange with colleagues in related fields.

Further comparative perspectives were provided by Regine Mathias, Robert Horres, Anke Scherer, Keiko Nagase-Reimer, and Bettina Oka for Japan, Jun Seong-ho for Korea, Harald Witthöft for Europe, and Arturo Giraldez for Latin America.

Five fieldwork trips were pure pleasure with Stefan Dieball, forever unfazed and uncomplaining on the two longest trips, Hans-Joachim Rosner, Rüdiger Specht, Su Rongyu, Yang Yuda and Nie Xuanhua. Lan Yong provided much appreciated help with his own experience of fieldwork, in addition to obtaining and sharing access and materials from the Baxian Archive. During various trips to Yunnan, Lu Ren and colleagues at Yunnan University’s Historical Department offered hospitality and the opportunity for fruitful exchange. Thanks for supporting this research with pictorial materials are due to Peter Griebert and Christine Assmy, who graciously made scans of private collections available.

During the writing process, Jane Kate Leonard, Mark Elvin, and Arturo Giraldez provided invaluable guidance and unfailing encouragement when things became difficult, and I would like to finally express my gratitude to them. Many friends read most or all of the manuscript at various stages and provided comments that were most appreciated. These are: Mark Elvin, Max Kern, Hans Ulrich Vogel, Tony Howes, David Bello, Kai Cieliebak, Yang Yuda, Suny Kim, Hannah Theaker, and Rebecca O’Sullivan (ranked by seniority).

Last but not least, my thanks to my husband Tony, and to my sons Robin and Florian, who have not only put up with my frequent absences from and absent-mindedness at home, but even remained sympathetic to my peculiar line of work. While I am of course to blame for the mistakes in this book, the final responsibility lies with my parents who never even tried to curb my odd interests.