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Entente cordiale: Anglo-French exchange among calico printers

Sykas, PA (2015) Entente cordiale: Anglo-French exchange among calico printers. In: Oberkampf and printed cotton, 18th to 19th centuries Production, design and consumption, 08 October 2015 - 10 October 2015, Jouy-en-Josas, France.

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The history of calico printing in the modern era has often been presented as a fierce competition between England and France. But this construct seems to have been created retrospectively for the purpose of cultivating nationalistic pride in skill and innovation. Certainly such competition operated at the mercantile level in market regions that varied over time, but did this rivalry extend to the manufacturers? If so, how can we explain the amount and frequency of contact between calico printers on the two sides of the Channel? Did calico printers have more to gain from scientific exchange than from trade secrecy? Even though calico printers themselves evoked the language of competition when promoting industry matters amongst their own compatriots, a different story emerges from their wider actions.

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