Today in Labour History
In October 1665 the French Minister of Finance to Louis XIV attracted some Venetian glassworkers to Paris to set up the Manufacture Royale des Glaces de Miroirs, which aimed to produce mirrors on a larger scale than in Venice. In 1688, the French patented a new mirror-making technique. This cast-plate process consisted of pouring the melted glass on a larger surface and subsequently polishing it. In contrast to mirrors made in Venice, where the glass was blown into cylinders and then manually stretched into rectangular shapes, the French method made it possible to make much larger mirrors, to cut production time in half and significantly reduce labour costs by replacing skilled artisans with unskilled workers.
Nowadays, the Manufacture Royale, renamed Saint-Gobain, is a French multinational corporation dealing in glass and other construction materials.
Francesca Trivellato, 'Guilds, Technology, and Economic Change in Early Modern Venice' in Guilds, Innovation and the European Economy (2008) 219