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Technology and Culture 41.4 (2000) 801-802

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Book Review

Die Tüchlebarone: Zur Geschichte der Textildruck- und Textilfärbeindustrie in Hard vom späten 18. bis sum frühen 20. Jahrhundert.

Die Tüchlebarone: Zur Geschichte der Textildruck- und Textilfärbeindustrie in Hard vom späten 18. bis sum frühen 20. Jahrhundert. Edited by Reinhard Mittersteiner. Hard, Aus.: Textildruckmuseum, 1999. Pp. 316; illustrations, tables, notes/references.

This is a lavishly illustrated book about textile printing and dyeing in the Austrian town of Hard and neighboring villages on the eastern side of Lake Constance (Bodensee). Offered as a complement to the textile printing museum recently established in one of the former factories, it describes the social and political life of the town and its industries through their growth in the nineteenth century and decline in the twentieth. It includes six articles by four authors, each with a special expertise in their subject and personal or professional connections to the community.

Most of the textile factories in Hard were linked to the extremely successful family firm of Jenny and Schindler and its successors, whose proprietors are the cloth barons of Reinhard Mittersteiner's title. The factories produced a variety of wool and cotton textiles, principally for Italy, Hungary, and the Slovakian countries of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Jenny and Schindler and later Firma S. Jenny were known for their Turkey-red prints and extremely popular red-black-white cotton textiles, as well as for other cloths with bright multicolored designs. Examples of these fabrics, intended for lower-priced markets and constant use, rarely survive, and it is a special pleasure to find so many illustrated here.

Die Tuchlebarone strives to be more than a description of the textile dyeing and printing industries in Hard. Accordingly, an early chapter documents life and trades before the factories were established. Another looks at textile printing processes, emphasizing local techniques. Subsequent chapters use textile manufacturing and related labor politics to describe [End Page 801] events in the town through first decades of the twentieth century. The relationship between factory administration and the district is presented as one of regular and repeated conflict over production, costs, social ideals, and trade unionism. Overlapping problems stemmed from religious disagreements due to the role taken by a socially liberal if religiously strict clergy and from cultural differences between the indigenous Catholic community and immigrant Protestants or Italian Catholics. Still other disputes concerned pollution, and the need to balance the factories' constant requirements for water against those of the local inhabitants and their livestock.

Over the past decade the European Textile Network, a trade, research, and cultural association, has encouraged the preservation of textile crafts and industries through the development of industrial heritage sites and related cultural tourism. Although there are no explicit connections to the ETN noted here, perhaps Die Tüchlebarone is best understood with those goals, and that audience, in mind. More than an exhibition catalogue, it clearly is aimed at an interested and knowledgeable audience, but not a scholarly one. The presentation does not challenge established interpretations but rather offers new information within a familiar setting. Local archives dominate the citations, and there is no attempt to connect the narrative to activities or events beyond the Hard district. This leads to some frustrations. Vorarlberg, the state that includes Hard, is among the most industrialized regions of Austria. There was no tradition of textile production when the first factories were established there, however; early industrial development coincided with the period described in the book. The authors raise but never address questions about the establishment of industry and about the introduction of certain textile technologies. Nor do they describe relationships to printers or factory owners in Alsace and Basel, although significant connections are implied.

In presenting a history specific to Hard and its textile industries, Die Tüchlebarone uses underexploited sources for information about textiles and more general documentation of the development and decline of industries in the later nineteenth and early twentieth century. Textile trades were...


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