Figured Tapestry: Production, Markets and Power in Philadelphia Textiles, 1855-1941

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Figured Tapestry is a study of industrial maturity and decline, focused on the Philadelphia textile trades from the era of the Knights of Labor through World War II. Unlike the bulk fabric enterprises of New England and the South, Quaker City textile firms were 'flexible specialists,' combining skilled labor, versatile technologies, and quick responsiveness to demand shifts to create a vast array of seasonal goods. Scranton assesses the significance and limits of industrial versatility, owner-operated businesses, craft labor and its organizations, and the agglomeration of specialist mills in urban districts. An interdisciplinary blend of business, labor, urban, and economic history, industrial geography, and the history of technology, Figured Tapestry illuminates the hidden world of batch production, the 'other side' of American industrialization, and highlights both the benefits and the hazards of flexibility, a matter of moment to those who seek to reorient current manufacturing away from the rigidities of mass production.