The Long History of Trade Fairs and Markets

Tracing the history of today’s trade shows to the European markets of yesterday.

Every year millions of professional buyers, artists, engineers, media writers, consumers and others attend famous markets like the Consumer Electronics Show, International Automobil- Ausstellung, the Detroit Auto Show, or the famous Milan, Paris, London or New York Fashion Weeks to view and sample new products, designs, myriads of new ideas across the broad spectrum from clothing and fashion to cars, computers and gadgets, medicines and medical devices, and everything you could name, and many you could not!

Take for example this list of prominent upcoming trade shows:

CALENDAR OF FUTURE MARKET DATES

2017
LAS VEGAS FURNITURE MARKET July 30-August 3, 2017
HIGH POINT FURNITURE MARKET October 14-18, 2017

2018
HEIMTEXTIL MESSE FRANKFURT GERMANY January 9-12, 2018
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW January 9-12, 2018 Las Vegas
COLOGNE GERMANY FURNITURE FAIR January 15-21, 2018
LAS VEGAS FURNITURE MARKET January 28-February 1, 2018
ISPA EXPO March 14-16, 2018 Charlotte, North Carolina
HIGH POINT FURNITURE MARKET April 14-18, 2018
LAS VEGAS FURNITURE MARKET July 29-August 2, 2018
HIGH POINT FURNITURE MARKET October 13-17, 2018

2019
HEIMTEXTIL MESSE FRANKFURT GERMANY January 8-11, 2019
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW January 8-11, 2019 Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS FURNITURE MARKET January 27-31, 2019
HIGH POINT FURNITURE MARKET April 6-10, 2019
INTERZUM COLOGNE, GERMANY May 21-24, 2019
LAS VEGAS FURNITURE MARKET July 28-August 1, 2019
HIGH POINT FURNITURE MARKET October 19-23, 2019

 

Living Interiors Cologne Germany is probably the world’s most famous new home furnishings exposition but certainly not the only one. In the United States two market centers located in High Point, North Carolina and Las Vegas, Nevada have two semi-annual expos. Heimtextil  which is held annually in Frankfurt, Germany where all the newest and brightest textiles and fashion is on display.

Although ancient market centers and towns existed for thousands of years, the growth and importance of local trade fairs in Europe became essential means of sharing new types of textile materials, designs, weave patterns, and colors that made cities of origin famous and synonymous with the actual product.

As an example of cloth buying, and the importance of the numerous trade fairs, here are some excerpts from The Merchant Adventurers and the Continental Cloth-trade (1560-1620) by W. Bauman, 1990, p-319-323:

“The general sources for English cloths were Antwerp and Cologne until the 1570s at least. (The Basal merchant in this study) Ryff that did not have connections there yet…made contact with his first suppliers in Frankfurt (Lent and Autumn Fairs), Strasbourg (Midsummer and Christmas Fairs), Zurach (on the Rhine north of Zurich) (Whitsun and Serene (Sept 1) Fairs), and Basel (Martinmas Fair).”

“In 1570 at the Strasbourg Fair, he bought seven or eight bales of cloth from London, Limburg (near Verviers), Bacharach (on the Rhine), and Epinal (in Lorraine), and the next year at the same fair eight bales. In 1572 at the Whitsun Fair in Zurich, he bought forty English cloths from Lienhart Silvester, and eighty from Baltasar Rabolast, Silvester’s factor for Switzerland, in the Verene Fair. Thus he obtained most of his requirements in Strasbourg and Zurach from Silvester and Schreiber.” 

 

 

Cities of origin of unique cloth content, weave, dye color, etc., became “trademarks” in a sense, with exotic suggestions such as Parisian and Reims linens (tela), Mosul cottons (from which term “Muslin” derives), Easterns (green cloth from Hansa, Florentine tiretaines, Saracen “tapis”: (tapestry), Italian ticking (theka) and hundreds of others.

Markets and trade fairs have a long history and are as important in the modern world as any other times in history.

 

RELATED LINKS 

CES Trade Show, Las Vegas, Nevada

Heimtextil, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Las Vegas Market, Nevada