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MERSENNE  June 2018

MERSENNE June 2018

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Subject:

SAL public lecture: 'Paying the tolls'

From:

"J. Bulstrode" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

J. Bulstrode

Date:

Thu, 7 Jun 2018 14:11:50 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (51 lines)

why elastic glass springs matter for Big Ben and the repeal of the corn 
laws, and why Charles Dickens rewrote Cinderella as a tax return..

free public lecture at The Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, 
London:

'Paying the Tolls: Glass in Time and the Regulation of the Free Trade 
State' Jenny Bulstrode (University of Cambridge)

1-2pm, Tuesday 21 August (doors open at 12.30).

Lectures are free and open to the public, but space is limited and 
booking is recommended.

For further details and to book please follow the link:

https://www.sal.org.uk/events/2018/08/paying-the-tolls-glass-in-time-and-the-regulation-of-the-free-trade-state/

In the stores of the British Museum are three exquisite springs, made in 
the late 1820s and 1830s, to regulate the most precise timepieces in the 
world. Barely the thickness of a hair, they are exquisite because they 
are made entirely of glass. Combining new archival evidence, funded by 
the Antiquarian Horological Society, with the first technical analysis 
of the springs, undertaken in collaboration with the British Museum, the 
research presented here uncovers the extraordinary significance of these 
springs to the global extension of nineteenth century capitalism through 
the repeal of the Corn Laws.

In the 1830s and 1840s the Astronomer Royal George Biddell Airy; the 
Hydrographer to the Admiralty, Francis Beaufort; and the Prime Minister, 
Sir Robert Peel, collaborated with the virtuoso chronometer-maker, 
Edward John Dent, to mobilize the specificity of particular forms of 
glass, the salience of the Glass Tax, and the significance of state 
standards, as means to reform. These protagonists looked to glass and 
its properties to transform the fiscal military state into an 
exquisitely regulated machine with the appearance of automation and the 
gloss of the free-trade liberal ideal. Surprising, but significant 
connections, linking Newcastle mobs to tales of Cinderella and the use 
of small change, demonstrate why historians must attend to materials and 
how such attention exposes claims to knowledge, the interests behind 
such claims, and the impact they have had upon the design and 
architecture of the modern world. Through the pivotal role of glass, 
this paper reveals the entangled emergence of state and market 
capitalism, how an exquisite glass spring set the time for Dent’s most 
famous work, the Westminster clock, Big Ben; and how the British factory 
system was transformed in vitreous proportions.

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