Herring and Class Struggle

Capitalism came late to Iceland. At the end of the 19th century this large, wind-swept, thinly populated island was made up of small towns, farms and seasonal fishing stations. Then European capitalists saw another Klondike in the herring-rich waters of the north Atlantic..

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Earning Our Bread

A Merchant's store in 19th century Iceland was the pivotal point of its community. He or she was a shopkeeper, an international trader, an employer and an agent for any work available in the neighbourhood. They usually had a monopoly in their district and to maintain this happy state they issued their own credit tokens as payment for work done. In my next post I'm going to look at wages for agricultural workers, indoor servants and fishworkers, and the liberation of being paid in cash. In the meantime here's a token issued in the 1890's by JBR Lefolii, the Danish merchant operating in Eyrarbakki. It is worth 1 Ryebread. (Rugbrauð)

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