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Saxon porcelain manufactory
Interior view of the Prussian spirits factory with some historical stills

A manufactory (from the Latin manus 'hand' and Latin facere 'build', 'do', 'make', 'produce') is a production facility of craftsmen of different professions or highly specialized sub-workers of a craft whose different work processes result in the production of a common Aim at the end product. In large parts of the world, factories are only a small-scale type of productive operation . In European economic history, they replaced medieval handicrafts and were pushed out of the factories themselves in the course of industrialization . The factories differ from the latter in that they use less mechanical equipment and work mainly by hand, although the conceptual boundaries can be fluid. Manufactories emerged in Europe, especially in the early modern period , from both private and government initiatives.

Terminology and history

A manufactory is created in different ways:

  1. The combination of different trades in one workhouse. Previously decentralized, independent professions now work centrally under one roof. For example, turners , locksmiths , gilders and other guilders work together in a carriage manufacture and have a common objective.
  2. The dissection of a craft. A variety of activities in a profession are carried out by highly specialized sub-workers after they have been broken down into individual steps. For example, the Royal Warehouse in Berlin relocated Spinner and Weber , which was also seen as a prototype of a centralized manufacture.

Summary and breakdown depict the division of labor and lead to a general increase in productivity. Although technical progress goes hand in hand with the division of labor, it is primarily expressed in the manufacture of new types of tools and the refinement of existing ones. He does not overcome the consistently handcrafted character of production in factories.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the terms workshop , manufacture and factory were often used synonymously. During this time, manufacturers sometimes had the term “factory” in their name, as it symbolized progressive production and operations.


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

In order to achieve these goals, factories were established. They were characterized by the economic principles of capitalism , such as the separation of the workers from ownership of the means of production and the reorganization of work processes carried out with the aim of increasing efficiency. These new factories should significantly increase the production of their own finished products and at the same time reduce costs. These principles, with the later industrialization taken by the entire economy of ownership are as factory capitalism called.

In addition to the reform of the production process, legal regulations were enacted that encouraged 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 compulsion to consume only domestically produced goods. In order to reduce costs further, orphans and beggars were often forced to work in the factories (see also: work house ). For example, orphanages with an attached spinning mill were built for this purpose .

The manufacture of new types of tools and the refinement of the existing ones in the manufactory formed the prerequisite for the development of machines and a factory system based on them , which largely replaced the classic craft in the manufactory.


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


Under King Henry IV and his finance minister Sully , a mercantilism prevailed in France that focused on building up a manufacturing industry at home. On the advice of the economist Barthélémy de Laffemas , the king supported, among other things, the establishment of a silk production facility in France. In 1602, Henry IV instructed each community to set up a mulberry tree plantation and a silkworm farm. In addition to these new projects, the interest of the ruler and his advisors was also directed towards existing and expandable branches of the economy in their own country. He supported numerous private manufacturers with rooms, money and privileges that were later subordinated to the state. Under Louis XIV , the finance minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert reorganized the entire manufacturing process: the production of goods was divided between guilds and monopolies and regulated by numerous state instructions. In order to promote production, tapestry specialists were recruited as foreign workers from Flanders . Specialists in glass, mirrors and lace were brought in from the Italian states, and metal specialists from the north. Emigration for specialists was banned and later made a death penalty. Since the private initiative was not too big, despite many incentives, state manufacturing companies were set up. In 1663, Colbert founded the "Manufacture royale des tapisseries et des meubles de la Couronne" under the artistic direction of Charles Le Brun (until 1690) in his function as "Surintendant et ordonnateur général des bâtiments, arts, tapisseries et manufactures de France" over 250 craftsmen (bronze casters, cabinet makers, silversmiths, stone cutters, ivory carvers, etc.) employed. It also incorporated all of the French weaving studios, which were combined in the Gobelin Manufactory . The privately run Savonnerie-Manufaktur with its monopoly on knotted carpets was now also subject to state supervision. Wars forced the king to close the factory in 1694. Only the tapestry factory was reopened in 1699. Some of the factories 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 equipped with state privileges:

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 factory in Meissen

Other European princes followed France and founded their own state-owned factories or supported private entrepreneurs in their founding. In the 18th century, mainly porcelain manufacturers spread across Europe. August the Strong founded the Royal Polish and Electoral Saxon Porcelain Manufactory in Meißen by decree in 1710 , the first porcelain manufacture on the European continent. Tsarina Elisabeth did the same in 1744 with the Neva Porcilin 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 their own porcelain manufactory: In 1758, the " Ducal Eighth Porcelaine-Fabrique " was established by decree of the Württemberg Duke Carl Eugen . As early as 1747, Duke Karl I of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel instructed Johann Georg von Langen to found the Fürstenberg porcelain factory . But other goods, too, were increasingly being manufactured in the factory with the support of the rulers. Thus, under the protection of Duke Charles I, Georg Heinrich Stobwasser also settled in Braunschweig in 1763 with a “ lacquerware factory ”, in which household items were manufactured using the lacquer painting technique from China . Frederick the Great was very impressed and tried to poach the company to Berlin in the early 1770s. It wasn't until 1779 that the Danish King Christian VII became interested in the porcelain manufacture of the pharmacist Frantz Heinrich Müller and turned it into the Kongelige Porcelainsfabrik .

In addition to the increasing spread of porcelain, numerous faience factories emerged, such as the one that Count Johann Rudolf von Wrisberg had built near his Wrisbergholzen Castle in 1736, or that founded by Emperor Franz I in 1743 in Holíčs . Numerous other foundations are evidence of the expanding manufacturing activity in Europe: In 1749, Count Heinrich von Brühl acquired a plantation in Hosterwitz near Dresden , on which he initially ran a snuff and smoking tobacco factory, and later a silk factory with sericulture. In 1754, Empress Maria Theresia nationalized the Linz woolen factory founded in 1672 as the “KK Aerarial woolen, cloth and carpet factory in Linz”. In 1785, Emperor Joseph II left the Dominican Island near Konstanz to Jacques Louis Macaire de L'Or in exchange for a small lease , where the entrepreneur set up an indigenous factory.

Some European rulers tried to set up a tapestry factory in their territory, based on the French tapestry factory. The Danish King Christian V called Berent van der Eichen from Brabant to Denmark in 1684 to set up a tapestry manufacture in Copenhagen (closed in 1692). In 1716 Peter the Great founded a tapestry manufacture in Jekaterinenhof, a suburb of St. Petersburg . To do this, he hired weavers and dyers from Paris and Beauvais. In 1718, Elector Max Emanuel set up a state tapestry manufacture with Huguenot workers in Munich . Other Huguenot workers settled in Erlangen , Würzburg and Bayreuth . To furnish the Würzburg residence , Prince-Bishop Friedrich Carl von Schönborn commissioned the German craftsman Andreas Pirot to set up a tapestry factory that produced around 25 tapestries and over 100 furniture covers for the Prince-Bishop from 1728 to 1749.


Monbijou Castle in Berlin 1740. Until 1713 a tapestry factory was housed here.

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

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 due to 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 the Madrid suburb of Santa Bárbara in 1720 . Bernardo Cambi, head of the Real Fábrica de Paños cloth manufacture in Guadalajara , which was founded in 1718 on the model of Abbeville, was the first royal manufacture in Spain to act as intermediary . 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 . In 1760 his successor, Charles III. , inspired by the Porcellana di Capodimonte in Naples , the Porcelain Manufactory Real Fábrica del Buen Retiro in Madrid. In 1737, as King Charles VII of Naples, he had already founded the royal tapestry manufacture located there.

In Portugal , the Real Fábrica de Vidros glass factory 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 factories in the city of Hrodna , among other things for the production of linen , cotton , silk, embroidery , silk stockings, hats , tips, pistols , needles , Cards and carriages . Most of the basic materials for this had to be imported at great expense. In the factories run by foreign experts, about 3,000 workers worked in slave labor ; their uprising was brutally suppressed in 1769. When Tyzenhaus fell out of favor in 1780, the factories had to close due to his bankruptcy.

Outside of Europe

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


Manufactory in Soho, England, around 1800

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

  • Simple apprenticeships are paid little; Activities that require further training and specialization, on the other hand, are paid higher.
  • Repeatedly performing simple, detailed work places one-sided stress on certain parts of the body and leads to diseases.
  • Monotonous work is perceived as insufficiently intellectual.
  • A lot of manual work requires little knowledge, and less qualified workers willing to work move up at low wages.

In his main work, Wealth of Nations , the economist Adam Smith describes these disadvantageous effects for part workers in factories: "It destroys the energy of his body and makes it impossible for him to use his strength vigorously and persistently, except in the detailed occupation for which he is drawn."

The modern term

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

In order to counter the misuse of the term manufactory in advertising, many German manufacturers have joined associations such as the Verband Deutsche Manufakturen e. V. or the "Initiative Deutsche Manufakturen - Handmade-in-Germany UG" organizes or takes part in their forums. The aim is to strengthen consumer protection in terms of manufacture: companies that call themselves manufacture should undertake to actually manufacture their goods themselves with a high proportion of manual labor.

A watch manufacture , a term often used in advertising for a watch factory, describes an independent company that develops and manufactures its own watch movements and largely dispenses with suppliers. The production of wristwatches is divided into many work steps, especially assembly and adjustment of the clockwork, so that in view of manual, filigree work, there is a manufacture in the literal sense.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Manufaktur  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Dieter Schäfer : Aspects of the economic history of Würzburg from the end of the Old Empire to the present. Problems, projects, developments, markets, factories, firms, branches, employment, entrepreneurs and the role of the city in two centuries. In: Ulrich Wagner (Hrsg.): History of the city of Würzburg. 4 volumes, Volume I-III / 2, Theiss, Stuttgart 2001-2007; III / 1–2: From the transition to Bavaria to the 21st century. Volume 2, 2007, ISBN 978-3-8062-1478-9 , pp. 1319 f., Note 48.
  2. Heinz Schmidt-Bachem: From paper: a cultural and economic history of the paper processing industry in Germany . Walter de Gruyter, 2011, ISBN 978-3-11-023607-1 , p. 31–33 ( [accessed October 26, 2017]).
  3. Documents historiques inédits tirés des collections manuscrites de la Bibliothèque royale et des archives ou des bibliothèques des départements publiés par M. Champollion Figeac. In: Retrieved October 30, 2016 .
  4. "Gobelin". In: - The large art dictionary by PW Hartmann. Retrieved October 3, 2015 .
  5. ^ Gobelins Manufactory. In: The J. Paul Getty Museum - Collection database. Retrieved October 3, 2015 .
  6. ^ Alfred Darcel, Jules Guiffrey: La stromatourgie de Pierre Dupont: documents relatifs à la fabrication des tapis de Turquie en France au XVIIe siècle. In: 1882, accessed October 30, 2016 (French).
  7. ^ Grove Dictionary of Decorative Arts , Vol. 1, p. 483.
  8. ^ Tapestry. § II: History. 4. 1701-1800 . In: Gordon Campbell (Ed.): The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts . tape 1 . Oxford University Press, New York 2006, ISBN 978-0-19-518948-3 , pp. 423-426 ( online ).
  9. Rotraud Bauer: Flemish weavers in German-speaking countries . In: Guy Delmarcel (ed.): Flemish Tapestry Weavers Abroad. Emigration and the Founding of Manufactories in Europe . Leuven University Press, Leuven 2002, p. 63-90 .
  10. Thomas Aniol: Woven Luxury - Tapestries from Beauvais and Würzburg. (No longer available online.) In: Archived from the original on March 14, 2012 ; Retrieved October 3, 2015 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  11. 300th birthday of the Würzburg wallpaper maker Andreas Pirot. (No longer available online.) In: Archived from the original on March 4, 2016 ; Retrieved October 3, 2015 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. ^ Concha Herrero Carretero: L'établissement de la Manufacture Royale des Tapisseries à Madrid au XVIIIème siècle. Les Van der Goten, maîtres tapissiers d'Anvers . In: Guy Delmarcel (ed.): Flemish Tapestry Weavers Abroad. Emigration and the Founding of Manufactories in Europe . Leuven University Press, Leuven 2002, ISBN 90-5867-221-2 , pp. 228-246 ( online ).
  13. J. Echávarri Otero et al .: Royal Manufactures Promoted by the Spanish Crown during the 18th and 19th Centuries . In: Teun Koetsier / Marco Ceccarelli (Eds.): Explorations in the History if Machines and Mechanisms . Springer, Dordrecht 2012, ISBN 978-94-007-4131-7 , pp. 54-68 , doi : 10.1007 / 978-94-007-4132-4 ( online ).
  14. Grodno . In: The Edinburgh Encyclopaedia . tape 10 . Parker, Philadelphia 1832, p. 126-127 ( online ).
  15. ^ The golden century of silk weaving. (No longer available online.) In: National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus. Archived from the original on October 4, 2015 ; Retrieved October 3, 2015 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  16. ^ Royal Textile Factories in Qing China. In: Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. Retrieved October 3, 2015 .
  17. Maris Hubschmid: "Manufacture companies: A great love for the product". Handelsblatt, March 4, 2012, accessed December 5, 2013 .
  18. Silke Kerstin: "Handarbeit" made in Germany ". Tagesspiegel, September 23, 2012, accessed on December 5, 2013 .