It is often assumed that natural philosophy was the forerunner of early modern natural sciences. But where did these sciences’ systematic observation and experimentation get their starts? In Materials and Expertise in Early Modern Europe, the laboratories, workshops, and marketplaces emerge as arenas where hands-on experience united with higher learning. In an age when chemistry, mineralogy, geology, and botany intersected with mining, metallurgy, pharmacy, and gardening, materials were objects that crossed disciplines.
Here, the contributors tell the stories of metals, clay, gunpowder, pigments, and foods, and thereby demonstrate the innovative practices of technical experts, the development of the consumer market, and the formation of the observational and experimental sciences in the early modern period. Materials and Expertise in Early Modern Europe showcases a broad variety of forms of knowledge, from ineffable bodily skills and technical competence to articulated know-how and connoisseurship, from methods of measuring, data gathering, and classification to analytical and theoretical knowledge. By exploring the hybrid expertise involved in the making, consumption, and promotion of various materials, and the fluid boundaries they traversed, the book offers an original perspective on important issues in the history of science, medicine, and technology.