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A manufactory (from Latin manus 'hand' and Latin facere 'build', 'do', 'make', 'manufacture') is a production facility of craftsmen of different professions or highly specialized partial workers of a craft whose different work processes have the goal of manufacturing a common end product. In much of the world, manufacturing is now just a small-scale type of productive enterprise. In European economic history, they replaced medieval crafts and were themselves pushed out by factories as part of industrialization. The manufactories differ from the latter in that they have less mechanical equipment and do most of the work by hand, although the conceptual boundaries can be fluid. Manufactories arose in Europe, especially in the early modern period, as a result of both private and state initiatives.

Table of Contents

1 Explanation of terms and history

2 emergence

3 story

31 France

3.2 Rest of Europe

3.2.1 Prussia

3.2.2 Spain and Portugal

3.2.3 Poland-Lithuania

3.3 ​​Outside Europe

4 criticism

5 The modern term

6 See also

7 Literature

8 web links

9 individual verifications

Disambiguation and history

Porcelain manufactory Augarten (Leopoldstadt, Vienna, Austria)

A manufactory is created in different ways:

The merging of different crafts into one workhouse. Previously decentralized independent professions now work centrally under one roof. For example, turners, locksmiths, gilders and other guild members work together in a carriage factory and have a common goal.

The dissection of a craft. Diverse activities of a profession are carried out by highly specialized part-workers after they have been broken down into individual steps. For example, the Royal Storehouse in Berlin relocated spinners and weavers, which was also seen as a prototype of centralized manufacture.

Summary and breakdown reflect the division of labor and lead to a general increase in productivity. Although technical progress goes hand in hand with the division of labour, it is expressed primarily in the production of new tools and the refinement of existing ones. It does not overcome the consistently manual character of production in manufactories.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the terms workshop, manufactory and factory were often used synonymously.[1] At that time, manufactories sometimes had the term “factory” in their name, as it symbolized advanced production and business management.[2]


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The economics of early mercantilism measured the wealth of an economy by its financial resources (gold). In order to increase the wealth of the state, princes were instructed to reduce imports of (expensive) manufactured goods and instead promote exports of their own products, thus achieving a positive balance of payments.

Manufactories were built to achieve these goals. They were characterized by the economic principles of capitalism, such as the separation of workers from ownership of the means of production and the reorganization of work processes with the focus on increasing efficiency. These new manufactories should significantly increase the production of their own finished products while reducing costs at the same time. These principles, which took possession of the entire economic life with the later industrialization, are called manufacturing capitalism.

In addition to the reform of the production process, legal regulations were enacted that promoted the export of goods but hindered the import of foreign finished products. The latter happened, for example, through the levying of high import duties or the legal obligation to only consume domestically produced goods. To further reduce costs, orphans and beggars were often forced to work in the manufactories (cf. also: workhouse). For this purpose, for example, orphanages with attached spinning mills were built.

The production of new tools and the refinement of those available in the manufactory formed the basis for the development of machines and a factory system based on them, which largely replaced the classic handicraft in the manufactory.


See also: history of production technology

In the early modern period, manufactories for a wide variety of products, including porcelain, silk, tapestries, leather goods, playing cards, clocks, wallpaper, weapons and paper, emerged, especially in the absolutist countries of Europe.


Under King Henry IV and his finance minister Sully, a mercantilism prevailed in France, which focused on the development of a domestic manufacturing industry. On the advice of the economist Barthélémy de Laffemas, the king supported, among other things, the establishment of silk production in France.[3] In addition, in 1602 Henry IV instructed each community to set up a mulberry tree plantation and silkworm breeding. In addition to these new projects, the interest of the ruler and his advisors was also focused on existing and expandable economic sectors in their own country. He supported numerous private manufacturers with premises, money and privileges that were later placed under the control of the state. Under Louis XIV, the Minister of Finance, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, reorganized the entire manufacturing sector: the production of goods was divided between guilds and monopolies and regulated by numerous government directives. To encourage production, tapestry specialists were recruited as foreign workers from Flanders. Specialists in glass, mirrors and lace were brought into the country from the Italian states, and metal specialists from the north. Emigration for specialists was forbidden, later put under the death penalty. Since the private initiative was not too great despite many incentives, state manufacturing companies were set up.In 1663, in his capacity as "Surintendant et ordonnateur général des bâtiments, arts, tapisseries et manufactures de France", Colbert founded the "Manufacture royale des tapisseries et des meubles de la Couronne", which was under the artistic direction of Charles Le Brun (until 1690). over 250 craftsmen (bronze casters, cabinet makers, silversmiths, stone cutters, ivory carvers, etc.) employed.[4] All French tapestry studios, which were brought together in the Gobelin manufactory, were also incorporated into it. The privately run Savonnerie manufactory with its monopoly on knotted carpets was now also subject to state supervision. Wars forced the king to close the manufactory in 1694. Only the tapestry factory was reopened in 1699.[5] Some of the manufactories structured by Colbert were still active until the end of the Ancien Régime, others are still active today.

Manufactories founded or reorganized by Colbert and endowed with state privileges:

for tapestries: Manufacture royale des Gobelins in Paris, as well as manufactories in Beauvais and Aubusson

for knotted carpets: Savonnerie manufactory in Paris[6]

for mirrors and glass: Manufacture royale des glaces de miroirs in Saint-Gobain

for lace, twill and wool stockings: manufactories in Seignelay

for cloths: Manufacture royale des Rames in Abbeville, Manufacture de draps in Villeneuvette and Elbeuf

for ribbons: Manufacture des rubans in Chevreuse

A royal porcelain factory was not set up in Sèvres until 1760.

Rest of Europe

Andreas Pirot: Arlecchino's entry into Venice. Tapestry from Würzburg, around 1745.

Porcelain manufactory in Meissen

Other European princes followed France's example and founded their own state-owned manufactories or supported private entrepreneurs in their establishments. Porcelain manufactories in particular spread throughout Europe in the 18th century. August the Strong founded the Royal Polish and Electoral Saxon Porcelain Manufactory in Meissen by decree in 1710, the first porcelain manufactory on the European continent. Tsarina Elisabeth did the same in 1744 with the Neva Porzilin Manufactory in St. Petersburg. Elector Maximilian III. Joseph allowed an entrepreneur to set up his Nymphenburg porcelain factory in 1747 in a building on the edge of the palace gardens. Smaller German principalities were also interested in having their own porcelain manufactory: in 1758, by decree from Duke Carl Eugen of Württemberg, the "Ducal-Acht Porcelaine-Fabrique" was established. As early as 1747, Duke Karl I of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel instructed Johann Georg von Langen to found the Fürstenberg porcelain manufactory. But other goods were also increasingly manufactured in factories with the support of the rulers. Under the protection of Duke Charles I, Georg Heinrich Stobwasser also settled in Braunschweig in 1763 with a "varnish factory" in which household items were manufactured using the lacquer painting technique originating in China. Frederick the Great was very impressed and tried to poach the company to Berlin in the early 1770s. Relatively late, in 1779, the Danish King Christian VII became interested in the porcelain manufactory of the pharmacist Frantz Heinrich Müller and made it the Royal Porcelains Factory.

In addition to the increasing spread of porcelain, numerous faience manufactories also emerged, such as the one that Count Johann Rudolf von Wrisberg had built at his Wrisbergholzen Castle in 1736, or that founded by Emperor Franz I in Holíčs in 1743.[7] Numerous other foundings testify to the spread of manufacturing in Europe: in 1749, Count Heinrich von Brühl acquired a plantation in Hosterwitz near Dresden, on which he first ran a snuff and smoking tobacco factory, and later a silk factory with silkworm breeding. In 1754, Empress Maria Theresa nationalized these Linz woolen factory founded in 1672 as “K.K. Aerarial wool, cloth and carpet factory in Linz". In 1785, Emperor Joseph II gave Jacques Louis Macaire de L'Or the Dominican Island near Constance for a small lease, where the entrepreneur set up an indienne manufactory.

Some European rulers tried to set up a tapestry factory in their dominions, following the example of the French tapestry factory. In 1684, the Danish King Christian V summoned Berent van der Eichen von Brabant to Denmark to set up a tapestry factory in Copenhagen (closing as early as 1692). In 1716, Peter the Great founded a tapestry factory in Yekaterinenhof, a suburb of St. Petersburg. He hired weavers and dyers from Paris and Beauvais to do this.[8] In 1718, Elector Max Emanuel set up a state tapestry factory in Munich with Huguenot workers. Other Huguenot workers settled in Erlangen, Würzburg and Bayreuth.[9] To equip the Würzburg Residence, Prince-Bishop Friedrich Carl von Schönborn commissioned the German weaver Andreas Pirot to set up a tapestry factory, which produced around 25 tapestries and over 100 furniture covers for the Prince-Bishop from 1728 to 1749.[10][11]


Monbijou Palace in Berlin in 1740. A tapestry factory was housed here until 1713.

In Prussia, manufacturing experienced an early boost from the Huguenots who had fled. In the year of their arrival in 1686, Pierre I Merciers and Jean I Barrabands founded a tapestry manufactory in Monbijou Palace in Berlin with an electoral privilege (closed in 1713). In 1716, Friedrich Wilhelm I hoped to set up a mulberry plantation for silkworm breeding in Berlin with the help of French experts. However, the company failed. Instead, he soon supported the silk production of the von der Leyen brothers in Krefeld, Prussia, with privileges (Prussian silk monopoly under Frederick II). With the Königliches Lagerhaus opened in 1713, a wool factory to supply the army, he at least made the wool industry in Berlin profitable again. His successor Friedrich II had a whole series of manufactories opened, such as the Royal Porcelain Manufactory in 1763. In 1769, a private flower factory was founded in Berlin, which produced silk flowers and artificial flowers as fashion accessories using Italian manufacturing processes.

Spain and Portugal

The Spanish glass factory in La Granja

King Philip V recruited the master Jacob Van der Goten from Anvers in 1719 after Spain had lost its Belgian territories and thus its tapestry workshops as a result of the Treaty of Utrecht. Under his leadership and with the help of four Belgian workers, the Real Fábrica de Tapices y Alfombras was founded in 1720 in the Madrid suburb of Santa Bárbara. Bernardo Cambi, manager of the cloth factory Real Fábrica de Paños in Guadalajara, which was founded in 1718 on the model of Abbeville as Spain's first royal factory, took over the mediation.[12] Only a few years later, in 1727, Philip V founded the glass factory Real Fábrica de Cristales de La Granja. In 1758 the Real Fábrica de Tabacos opened in Seville.[13] In 1760, his successor Charles III, inspired by the Porcellana di Capodimonte in Naples, founded the Real Fábrica del Buen Retiro porcelain factory in Madrid. In 1737, when King Charles VII.of Naples, founded the local royal tapestry manufactory

In Portugal, the glass factory Real Fábrica de Vidros was founded in Coina in 1719. In 1764 the Marquês de Pombal founded the Real Fábrica de Panos in Covilhã.


Between 1768 and 1776 the Lithuanian nobleman and minister of the Polish King Stanislaus II Antoni Tyzenhaus founded at least 23 manufactories in the city of Hrodna, among other things for the production of linen, cotton, silk, embroidery, silk stockings, hats, lace, Pistols, needles, cards and carriages. Most of the basic materials for this had to be imported at great expense. About 3,000 workers were forced to work in factories run by foreign experts; their uprising was brutally crushed in 1769.[14] When Tyzenhaus fell out of favor in 1780, the manufactories had to close as a result of his bankruptcy.[15]

Outside Europe

Manufacturing also spread outside of Europe. At the end of the 17th century, the Qing emperors opened three textile manufactories in China, one each in Hangzhou, Suzhou and Nanjing.[16]


Manufactory in Soho, England, around 1800

Manufactories lead to higher productivity, but also bring disadvantages for craftsmen and workers. Although initially only to a small extent, the manufacturing period creates a hierarchy among the workers for the first time:

Simple training activities are remunerated low; Activities that require further training and specialization, on the other hand, are paid higher.

Repeatedly performing simple detailed work puts one-sided stress on certain parts of the body and leads to disease.

Monotonous work is perceived as intellectually underchallenged.

Many manual jobs require little knowledge, less qualified workers who are willing to work move up to low wages.

In his main work, Wealth of Nations, the national economist Adam Smith describes these adverse effects on part-time workers in manufactures: "It destroys even the energy of his body and makes it impossible for him to use his strength vigorously and persistently, except in the detailed work for which he is called upon is."

The modern term

The term manufacture in the sense of "manufacture" is today associated with high quality, luxury items and exclusivity and is therefore often used for high-priced goods. The term has therefore experienced a renaissance in recent years, so that a large number of companies have appropriated the title manufactory.[17]

In order to counter the misuse of the term “manufacturer” in advertising, many German manufacturers have formed associations such as the Verband Deutsche Manufakturen e. V. or the “Initiative Deutsche Manufakturen – Handmade-in-Germany UG” or take part in their forums.[18] The aim is to strengthen consumer protection when it comes to manufacture: companies that call themselves manufacture should undertake to actually manufacture their goods themselves with a high proportion of manual work.

A watch manufacturer, a term often used in advertising for a watch factory, describes an independent company that develops and manufactures its own movements and largely does without suppliers. The production of wristwatches is divided into many work steps, especially concerning assembly and adjustment of the movement, so that in view of the manual, filigree work there is a manufacture in the literal sense.


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