The culture of materials and leather objects in eighteenth-century England

Rusbridge, Thomas Benjamin Sykes (2020). The culture of materials and leather objects in eighteenth-century England. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This study of leather examines material culture in England, c.1670-1800. Following raw hide to leather, leather to object, and object to possessed commodity, this thesis traces the production, retail, and consumption of three representative leather objects: saddles, chairs and drinking vessels. The analysis of these three objects is principally informed by materials, and draws on inventories, advertisements, literary and technical texts, visual sources and ephemera, and other object types with which they shared consumption contexts, practices of making or decoration.

This thesis argues, first, that the meanings consumers derived from materials, which informed their responses to objects, were created across the full life-cycle of a material: from production to consumption. Second, while leather exhibited principal properties which made it useful across several objects, its meanings and associations played out differently and unevenly across different object types. Thirdly, and consequently, in the relationship between materials and object types, objects operated as the site in which consumers could access the meaning of materials. This thesis ultimately argues, therefore, that historians should consider the relationship between object types and materials, in which each contributed towards the meaning that consumers derived from the other, to address consumer experiences of objects in the eighteenth century.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain


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