Merchants and Scholars: Essays in the History of Exploration and Trade
edited by John Parker
University of Minnesota Press, 1965
Paper: 978-0-8166-7257-8

Merchants and Scholars was first published in 1965. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.This volume of essays, collected in memory of James Ford Bell, reflects in some measure the broad scope and rich diversity of the James Ford Bell Collection of the University of Minnesota Library. All ten of the essays are based on or related to materials in the Bell collection.Founded by the late Mr. Bell, who was a prominent figure in the modern economic history of Minnesota, the collection had its origins in his interest in the commercial penetration of North America. As the collection developed, it became apparent that it would not be possible to study the merchants and explorers who came to North America apart from their contemporaries who probed South America, Africa, and Asia. The scope of the collection thus was expanded until it became worldwide, including the works of philosophers, geographers, navigators, merchants, and others who provided European readers with the knowledge they needed to enlarge their sphere of commerce.In an introduction, John Parker, former curator of the collection, explains the significance of the concept of the Bell collection to an understanding of history. He makes it clear that we cannot understand the reality of a world laced together by the bonds of commerce until we have learned how these bonds developed.The essays, which cover a wide range of subjects, show the interdependence of men of adventure and their scholarly contemporaries. Essays by Thomas Goldstein and Elisabeth Hirsch show that the scientists and humanists of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were deeply concerned with geographic thought and new discoveries. David Quinn and Ward Barrett discuss economic undertakings by merchants of the Old World in the New, while Burton Stein and Paul Bamford deal with historic problems of economy in Asia and the Mediterranean, respectively. John Webb, Frank Gillis, and Ernst Abbe relate economic enterprise and exploration to the development of the cartography of Russia and Hudson Bay. Helen Wallis and O.H.K. Spate concern themselves with English and French interests in the southern oceans. In its publication of these studies the Bell collection continues the tradition of cooperation between the merchant and the scholar.

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