Reinhold Rücker Angerstein (1718 – 60)
Reinhold Rücker Angerstein was the most talented of the representatives of the Swedish Ironmasters` Association (the Jernkontoret) who travelled across Europe in the 18th century, observing the commercial markets for iron, and taking note of technological innovations. Their journals are a valuable source for the history of industry throughout Europe, and those of Angerstein, held in the Jernkontoret headquarters in Stockholm, and published in England in 2000, are perhaps the most informative.
Angerstein was the great-grandson of a German ironmaster who moved to Sweden in 1639. He was born at Vikmanshyttan in 1718, and studied at the University of Uppsala before working for the Mining Council (the Bergscollegium). In 1749 he embarked on a tour of Europe that was financed by the various Swedish trade associations, and travelled through Denmark to Germany, Carinthia, Hungary, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Holland and England, before returning to Sweden in 1755 through the Low Countries. He assumed responsible positions both with the Bergscollegium and the Jernkontoret, as well as managing his family ironworks, where he planned to introduce innovations that he had seen in use on his travels. His death at the age of 41 was untimely.
His published journals show that he had a profound understanding of commerce as well as an ability to understand and record developments in technology. He appreciated the significance of the use of coke in blast furnaces, still practiced in only a very small number of ironworks at the time of his visit to Britain, but he also showed an understanding of the diversity of the market for iron in England, and of the way in which niches in it could be filled by imports from Russia, Spain and the Netherlands, as well as from Sweden. He made valuable observations on textiles, mining, railways and river navigations. He was one of many Swedish ironmasters who, through their travels, conveyed new thinking about technology and commerce, and left illuminating records of industry in other countries.