The eighteenth century is often viewed as the heroic age of the British iron industry – a time of triumphant technological progress. In fact, it was an age of thwarted ambition, when the take-up of new technologies proved frustratingly slow. The eighteenth century was more accurately the age of Baltic iron. Swedish and Russian iron surged onto the British market, meeting the demand that British ironmasters could not satisfy.
This was of epochal importance: Swedish iron allowed British steel makers and hardware manufacturers to dominate Atlantic markets. In turn, the rhythms of Atlantic commerce resounded through peasant communities in Sweden. Baltic iron in the Atlantic world captures this moment. In doing so it internationalises Swedish history in a radical way and presses an oceanic perspective on the traditionally insular view of the rise of heavy industry in Britain.
Available now from Brill Publishers