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Provincializing Global HistoryMoney, Ideas, and Things in the Languedoc, 1680-1830$
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James Livesey

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300237160

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300237160.001.0001

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The Swing Plow as an Eighteenth-Century Universal Machine

The Swing Plow as an Eighteenth-Century Universal Machine

(p.116) Chapter Four The Swing Plow as an Eighteenth-Century Universal Machine
Provincializing Global History

James Livesey

Yale University Press

This chapter talks about cases of many intellectually complex, socially ubiquitous, and highly significant technological innovations, such as the development of fore and aft rigging for sailing vessels that intensified coastal trade in Europe and later the Caribbean. The majority of the blacksmiths who experimented with plows do remain anonymous, but the contribution of James Small was so striking that he left behind a written record as well as a material object. Small was a blacksmith and cartwright from Berwickshire in southern Scotland, who in 1764 introduced a wheel-less iron plow inspired and provoked by his adjustments to the Rotherham plow patented in 1730 by Joseph Foljambe and Disney Stanytown. What made Small stand out was that he was able to articulate the thinking that underpinned his innovations in design. He defined the plow not as an object but as a function.

Keywords:   innovation, sailing, coastal trade, James Small, plow, blacksmith, cartwright, Joseph Foljambe, Disney Stanytown

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