There are numerous competing views about the development of consumer society (see, for example, Brewer and Porter 1993). Yet most researchers agree that novelty products have played a central role in shaping it. One view has it that the roots of consumer society can be traced back to Elizabethan England of the second half of the sixteenth century, when a large amount of novelties appeared on the market. Furniture, for example, began to be valued more for its novelty value than its patina. Although novelties had existed for a long time, their value as an organizing force of an economy became recognized in the early years of industrialization, most notably by Adam Smith.

The latter half of the nineteenth century marks another milestone in the evolution ...

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