Instrument makers in the London guilds 1

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In the formative period of London's scientific instrument industry membership of a guild was a necessary step towards owning a business in the City. Through the guilds' formal system of apprenticeship, boys received first-class training in a skilled trade, and learned essential marketing and managerial techniques. By analysing the guilds' records of apprenticeship and subsequent guild life it is possible to determine chains of masters and apprentices by which the knowledge passed from generation to generation. At the same time, dates can be established for the training and subsequent working life of many known makers. The chains of knowledge reveal new and often important masters who were previously unknown because, by chance, their instruments or advertisements have not survived to the present day. Two guilds have been used to illustrate the chains: Broderers' Company and Joiners' Company.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Oxford, c/o Museum of the History of Science, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3AZ, UK

Publication date: July 1, 1987

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