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The Master Cardmakers of Marseilles

Organisation of cardmakers from 1730 to 1776

The Beginning and End of Community

The Beginning and End of Community

Competition "took on overly great proportions, because anyone could manufacture cards in Marseilles", write the cardmakers of the city at the time of the development of their statutes, intended to join them together in community.

There were abuses, such as orders to manufacturers "from the surroundings" for export, laying off of workmen of a workshop, etc. On September 30, 1730, after a favourable opinion of the Steward of Provence, the statute probate was accepted.

An employers’ federation was created and jurors charged to see that the statutes were respected. Their duty was multiple: to visit their peers, receive any complaints of bad manufacturing or abuses of the card makers, affixing seals "with motto and coat of arms of the city" on crates intended for export and keeping records of cards sent abroad.

The rules were strict. No Master could act without the agreement of the federation and all the cards sold in Marseilles had to come from workshops in Marseilles under penalty of fine. Other rules prohibited layoffs, and the number of apprentices per workshop was limited to four. Annual contributions, entrance fees of the apprentices and journeymen and offenders’ fines filled the coffers of the community. Forerunners of social security and unemployment benefits appeared with the creation, in the statutes, of a contingency fund.

_ In 1753, a favour was requested from the Guard of the Seals. The small number of cardmakers led them to regroup and form a single factory to maintain the quality of the work in order to restore an almost extinct trade. They formulated several requests, notably to limit the number of cardmakers working in the city to eight. The monopoly they wanted was rejected.

_ By 1776, the statutes of the Marseilles Cardmakers were no longer in force: they once again become a "free" profession.

Annie Viale

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