An important element of European expansion was the growing trade in old and new luxuries and in consumer goods. In addition to well-known and quantitatively significant goods such as coffee, cotton or porcelain, Europe imported also exotic substances from the East and the West. They found their way into pre-modern knowledge about the body and diseases as new remedies, and thus contributed to an early medicalisation. During the long 18th century, commercial knowledge of these substances developed in the German-speaking area, which facilitated the trade in these exotic substances and enabled their evaluation as well as it targeted the marketing of these goods. Merchants from Central European regions could hardly fall back on direct contacts in the regions of origin, as they were essentially dependent on imports from the Atlantic trading centres. The production of knowledge took place in specialised publications such as merchant manuals and handbooks on products and drugs, and in encyclopaedias which were more aimed at the general public. The development and systematisation of this knowledge is analysed using a larger corpus of sources that have been digitised and transcribed using an OCR (optical character recognition)
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