Italian Spanish and Swiss Knitting

The diffusion of the knitting machine took a different form in France and England than in other European countries. In England, owing to the weak guild system, hand-knitters did not put up organized opposition against the 'introduction of the machine, and later, from the second half of the sevente-'enth century, the powerful organization of Framework Knitters defended the interests of this group of producers, machine knitting in France initially enjoyed strong state support; nevertheless this production was concentrated in regions away from hand-knitting centres. The training of apprentices and journeymen required the subsequent formation of guilds, whose norms were greatly surpassed by the dimensions of manufacture production. In other European countries the introduction of knitting machines was usually connected with the formation of centralized manufactures and pointed to a stronger development of diverse textile branches. The knitting mac! ne was a costly »nd complicated tool, requiring specially trained metal- workers for the assembly and maintenance. Supervision of the whole process of this flat fabric-maker together with the finishing required trained specialists and, consequently, its importation involved the importation of foreign experts. Owing to these costs, machine knitting was generally developend in manufactures subsidized by the state, magnates, enterpreneurs or joint stock companies.

Italy became an important centre of machine knitting, being at the same time a past centre of hand knitting production. This is the third country to *hich the knitting machine arrived already in 1611. Henson claims that after 'the death of W. Lee his brother left for England, Jones for Amsterdam and

Henry Mead for Venice. The attempt to organize a knitting manufacture failed and production lasted no longer than to 1611. Recently, the first results of archival research carried out by Adams in Italian archives have revealed that a certain Joiner was engaged in the production of silk stockings. This information, however, refers only to the period 1611-1612.1 We do not know, whether some small machine production survived a few Italian towns or not. The seventeenth century trade sources from various European countries constantly emphasize the extent of knitwear import, mainly stockings, from Milan, Mantua, Genoa. Naples or Bergamo.2 Filatories for silk, diffused through northern Italy in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, supplied the yarn required for this production.3 However, we do not know, to what degree it underwent mechanization. First data pertaining to the establishment of knitting manufacture refer to Milan. An Englishman, Hanford, established a workshop there, in 1663 which enjoyed the privilege of a monopoly for 10 years and made use of imported machines and experts. Scarce and dispersed data published by E. Verga reveal that the production there did not develop on a larger scale, while more successful were the manufactures established in 1680s and the eighteenth century. Data from the early nineteenth century inform us of 300 knitters working in Milan, thus we cannot speak about a enormous development, and this production did not grow.4 English data tells us about the export of knitting machines to Rome and Messina in the years 1670-1695. After 1721 knitting production spread to Venice, Bologna, Torino and Naples.5 Machine-knitting production could satisfy a part of the national demand, but Italy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries gradually loses its importance as a knitwear export centre, with French knitwear being imported there. It could, however, export its products, and perhaps even machines, to Dalmatia, which is testified by the varied textile production of Dubrovnik and the numerous relics of machine knitting preserved there.6

In Spain the invention of the knitting machine coincided with a period of economic stagnation. In the years 1670-1695 machines were exported from England to Cordova, Seville and Cadiz, and later also to Barcelona. Nevertheless, the development of knitting mnufactures did not take place immediately. At this very time the export of French knitted products to Spain increases.7 Then the establishment of state-supported manufactures establishment began to appear, guild hand-knitting production in Barcelona gains fairly large dimensions. Guild organization, newly documented from 1690, did not restrict the dimensions of production. In the statute of 1703 only the production of knitwear made on needles is mentioned, but in 1745 the guild organizatidn uncompassed both hand- and machine-knitting producers. Thus during the first half of the seventeenth century the knitting machine was adopted by the guild and in 1753 there were 16 manufacturers who possessed craft-type workshops using 92 machines. The dimensions of their production exceeded the number of workers accepted to ordinary guilds. Little is known about the further development of this knitting guild which existed up to the early nineteenth century. It was, however, an interesting example of combining guild organizations and the production dimensions of small manufactures. A comprehensive work discussing the silk production in Valencia in the eighteenth century assume that these traditional forms of guild production did not withstand the competition from the better invested and state-supported manufactures; nevertheless they revealed much greater continuity of production.

Studies on textile manufactures established in Spain in the eighteenth century do not take into account the separate knitting establishments which were organizationally connected with cloth and silk manufactures and even with those making cotton fabrics, and used yarn produced there. A considerable knitting production competitive with regard to Languedoc, developed in Barcelona at the end of the eighteenth century. At the end of the eighteenth century Valencia had 1700 knitting machines. Even earlier, in the early eighteenth century, a small manufacture producing knitting machines was established in Madrid. Regulations dating from 1770 for silk knitwear producers specify the weight of stockings, gloves and caps, in order to maintain the standard of production. On the basis of this scattered data and the large number of knitwear products preserved from the eighteenth century,9 we can assume that in this period the small knitting manufactures and the already declining guilds could satisfy a part of the national demand.

Switzerland was the first place of residence of the Huguenot emigrants crossing the French frontier in great numbers after the revocation of the edict of Nantes in 1685. A clergyman Tholosen organized their recruitment in other countries, mainly to Germany. Some of them remained in Switzerland. The first knitting manufacture was established in Geneva in 1688. The brothers Louis and Jacques Félix from Nîmes were working there on 8 machines. By 1712 there were already 12 small establishments in this town, while in 1720 a larger manufacture of Autran and Affourti with 15 machines was established. Nevertheless, this production was of importance only to the local market in contrast to the machine production of knitwear initiated by the Huguenots in Berne. Knitting machines also reached other cantons where domestic production organised in the putting-out system was being practised. During the eighteenth century machine-knitting, supplemented by hand-knitting production, started to have export significance. Woollen stockings, gloves and headgear were exported to Italy, Spain, the East and West Indies, Central and South America, as well as to Germany and the countries of northern Europe, and even to France. By 1768 in Berne and surroudings there were more than 500 machines in operation. In other cantons a few hundred knitting workshops have been counted. A fairly large production developed also in the old hand-knitting centre in Basle and surroundings; in 1766, 21 establishments were listed there. In Zurich and its neighbourhood in 1739 there were 120 knitters, small groups of them also concentrating in Freiburg and the surroundings of St. Gallen. Production declines in the late eighteenth century.

In Berne in 1791 there are only 232 machines in operation.10 W. Bodmer overestimates the extent of Swiss knitting. With such a small number of machines the export could not have been great and it had probably collapsed as a result of competition from French knitting.

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