Journal article Open Access

Learning a Craft from Books: Historical Re-enactment of Functional Reading in Gold- and Silversmithing

Hagendijk, Thijs


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    "language": "eng", 
    "title": "Learning a Craft from Books: Historical Re-enactment of Functional Reading in Gold- and Silversmithing", 
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    "journal": {
      "volume": "33", 
      "issue": "2", 
      "pages": "198-235", 
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    "description": "<p>The early modern period witnessed a great increase in the production and dissemination of artisanal handbooks, manuals and recipes. A central question is what role these texts played in the transmission of artisanal knowledge. This study explores the case of Dutch silversmith Willem van Laer (1674-1722) who published a&nbsp;<em>Guidebook for upcoming gold- and silversmiths</em>(1721), a comprehensive and well-received manual of the craft. To assess the role of the&nbsp;<em>Guidebook</em>in the acquisition of practical skills in the eighteenth century, this study employs traditional historical methods combined with historical re-enactment. I argue that effective use of the&nbsp;<em>Guidebook</em>depended on complementary hands-on education of master craftsmen, which suggests that the&nbsp;<em>Guidebook</em>was far from a DIY crash course and illustrates that the textual transmission of craft knowledge depended upon, rather than threatened, established routes to craft learning, such as apprenticeships.</p>"
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