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Work On The Docks: Sailors’ Labour Productivity And The Organization Of Loading And Unloading

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Chapter Summary

Gains in labour productivity in ocean sailing shipping between the Middle Ages and its demise at the end of the nineteenth century were impressive. No wonder that Amsterdam's lighterage sector was well developed. It was organized in four separate guilds. Some of its members, which reached a total of 180 in 1688, were engaged in fixed 'beurtvaarten' offering scheduled connections between Amsterdam and other cities. Second came the grain lightermen, between 1649 and 1812 separately organized as the 'Korenlichtermansgilde. Third, there were the simple sailing lighters without leeboards, mainly used for the transport of heavy goods such as wine, wood and stone. Finally, Amsterdam had its numerous oared small vessels for the transport of passengers and small goods and parcels, between 1613 and 1813. In late medieval northern Europe ships were small and could land nearly everywhere. Loading and unloading could be done easily by the crew.

Keywords: Amsterdam; guilds; labour productivity; lighters; Loading; Middle Ages; nineteenth century; unloading

10.1163/ej.9789004194397.i-464.25
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