Chapter 6 Information Shadows

Every master goldsmith shall have a mark by himself.

King Edward III, 1363 (Chaffers and Markham, 1905)

King Edward III of England did not require London goldsmiths to identify their wares because he liked collecting the objects they made or promoting individual artisans. No, his motives were regulatory. He wanted to be able to track and punish smiths whose wares glittered, but were not quite gold.

However, King Edward’s system of hallmarks (Figure 6-1) came to be much more valuable. As one of the earliest instances of cataloged metadata associated with manufactured goods, this system of hallmarks enabled a much different relationship between people and their possessions. Hallmarks re-associate objects with their ...

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