The Economic History Review

Trademarks and British dominance in consumer goods, 1876–1914

Volume 67 Issue 3
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Pages: 793-817Authors: Teresa Silva Lopes, Paulo Guimaraes
Published online: May 12, 2014DOI: 10.1111/1468-0289.12039

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Late Victorian Britain was very important in the development of British dominance in light consumer goods industries, such as fermented liquors and spirits; detergents and perfumery; bicycles and other carriages; paper, stationery, and bookbinding; and games of all kinds and sports goods. Firms developed technology-based innovations and marketing-based innovations, creating abnormal peaks of trademark registrations in certain industries. This article investigates those peaks and shows that factors usually pointed out as explaining British economic decline in heavy industries did not impact on the development of light consumer goods industries, and on the contrary encouraged their fast growth during this period. Trademark registrations are shown to provide new insights into the debate on British relative decline, when combined with other industry and firm-level data.