Buying into the World of Goods: Early Consumers in Backcountry Virginia (Studies in Early American Economy and Society from the Library Company of Philadelphia)

Martin, Ann Smart

Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008
ISBN 10: 0801887275 / ISBN 13: 9780801887277
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How did people living on the early American frontier discover and then become a part of the market economy? How do their purchases and their choices revise our understanding of the market revolution and the emerging consumer ethos? Ann Smart Martin provides answers to these questions by examining the texture of trade on the edge of the upper Shenandoah Valley between 1760 and 1810.

Reconstructing the world of one country merchant, John Hook, Martin reveals how the acquisition of consumer goods created and validated a set of ideas about taste, fashion, and lifestyle in a particular place at a particular time. Her analysis of Hook's account ledger illuminates the everyday wants, transactions, and tensions recorded within and brings some of Hook's customers to life: a planter looking for just the right clock, a farmer in search of nails, a young woman and her friends out shopping on their own, and a slave woman choosing a looking glass.

This innovative approach melds fascinating narratives with sophisticated analysis of material culture to distill large abstract social and economic systems into intimate triangulations among merchants, customers, and objects. Martin finds that objects not only reflect culture, they are the means to create it.

From the Back Cover:

Winner, Hagley Prize in Business History, The Business History Conference

Cowinner, Fred Kniffen Book Award, Pioneer America Society/Association for the Preservation of Landscapes and Artifacts

Reconstructing the world of one country merchant, John Hook, Ann Smart Martin reveals how the acquisition of consumer goods created and validated a set of ideas about taste, fashion, and lifestyle in a particular place at a particular time—the upper Shenandoah Valley between 1760 and 1810. Her analysis of Hook’s account ledger illuminates the everyday wants, transactions, and tensions recorded within and brings some of Hook’s customers to life: a planter looking for just the right clock, a farmer in search of nails, a young woman and her friends out shopping on their own, and a slave woman choosing a looking glass.

"The best study we have to date of early American consumerism."— Reviews in American History

"A wonderful book. It is impressively researched, logically organized, and well written. And far more than most accounts of the colonial backcountry, it introduces real people making choices about how to construct their worlds and how to present themselves to their neighbors and friends."— Journal of Southern History

"The writing is lively and easily understandable, and the mixture of methods used to study the accounts of Hook and the vast variety of topics addressed result in a book that would have broad appeal to antique and historic house enthusiasts, re-enactors and local historians."— Roanoke Times

Ann Smart Martin is Chipstone Professor and Director of the interdisciplinary Material Culture Program, Department of Art History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

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Title: Buying into the World of Goods: Early ...
Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication Date: 2008
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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