Baltic Iron in the Atlantic World in the Eighteenth Century


The eighteenth century is often viewed as the heroic age of the British iron industry - a time of triumphant technological progress. In fact, it was an age of thwarted ambition, when the take-up of new technologies proved frustratingly slow. The eighteenth century was more accurately the age of Baltic iron. Swedish and Russian iron surged onto the British market, meeting the demand that British ironmasters could not satisfy. This was of epochal importance: Swedish iron allowed British steel makers and hardware manufacturers to dominate Atlantic markets. In turn, the rhythms of Atlantic commerce resounded through peasant communities in Sweden. Baltic iron in the Atlantic world captures this moment. In doing so it internationalises Swedish history in a radical way and presses an oceanic perspective on the traditionally insular view of the rise of heavy industry in Britain.

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Biographical Note

Chris Evans, Ph.D. (1988) in History, University of London, teaches history at the University of Glamorgan, UK.

Göran Rydén, Ph.D. (1991) in Economic History, Uppsala University, is Professor at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research at Uppsala University.

Review Quotes

The present book [...] is a model study in historical research; without doubt the fruit of several years of painstaking archival work on both sides of the North Sea, involving different languages and cultures. It is to be highly recommended to anyone interested in the intimate working mechanisms of the eighteenth-century Atlantic economy."
Philipp Robinson Rössner, University of Leipzig, Germany (Journal of Economic History, 2010: 773-775).

"(... Evans and Rydén) give those of us who do not read Swedish access to material we could not otherwise study, Their research in primary sources has been very extensive."
Robert B. Gordon, Technology and Culture 51 (2010) 756-757.

" Baltic iron in the Atlantic world in the eighteenth century är en mycket läsvärd bok. (...) Evans och Rudén har därtill en elegant prosa och texten kompletteras av fina illustrationer. (...) Sammanfattningsvis lyckas mycket bra med att skapa en förstaelse av det komplexa system som järnhanteringen var och som länkade en liten by i Norduppland med befästa städer pa den afrikanska kusten."
Fredrik Sandgren, Historik Tidskrift 3 (2009) 571-573.

Table of contents

List of Maps, Figures, Illustrations, and Tables

Chapter One. The Warehouse of the World. Commerce and Production in the Early Modern Atlantic World
Chapter Two. The Topography of the Early Modern Iron Trade, c.1730
Chapter Three. The International Iron Trade at a Crossroads: Swedish and British Debates, 1730-1760
Chapter Four. An Industrial Revolution in Iron – Technology, Organisation and Markets, 1760-1870


Dramatis Personae


All those interested in Atlantic history, the history of the Baltic, the history of technology, the history of economic thought, and material culture in the eighteenth century.

Index Card

Collection Information