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Cloth trade, linen trade

The visitation lists for 1694 and 1703 show numerous businesses in the Judengasse dealing in all kinds of cloth and linen.

Right from an early stage cloth and linen were two of the most important commodities at the Frankfurt Fairs, which date back to 1240.
Linen was needed for bed linen, table linen, and towels, and later for underwear primarily items in everyday use.
There was a wide range of quality in cloth as the raw material for clothing.
Changes in fashion and the emergence of wealthy merchants meant that after the close of the 16th century the finer English and Netherlands cloths almost entirely forced out the coarser qualities produced by the weavers in Hessen and the Middle Rhine from the Fairs.

The Jews were strongly represented in this trade.
In the early 16th century for example the Buchsbaum family had a cloth business.
As in other lines of business, attempts were made to obstruct trade by Jews as far as possible, in order to reduce competition.
To prevent trade by Jews with the customers of small Christian shopkeepers, for example, the residence code of 1616 prohibited Jews from selling small quantities of material, limiting them to bales.
Despite protests by Christian traders, these restrictions were not strictly implemented, in line with the lax practice in other lines of trade.

© Jüd. Museum Frankfurt 1992-2002 /  Sources