It is generally believed that in the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the economies of Western Europe crossed the threshold to the modern age. In its most extreme interpretation the Industrial Revolution was a transition from an economically stagnant and institutionally rigid agrarian society to a dynamic and rapidly progressing industrial economy (e.g. Rostow 1961:4-9). There is, however, growing appreciation of the achievements of the early modern economy. In Britain the continuous revision of macroeconomic measurements has resulted in an increasingly gradualist pattern of development to the point of eliminating the traditional notion of revolutionary change at the level of the entire economy.1 O’Brien (1996) has re-introduced the longue durée in order to explain the difference between French and British industrialization. The debate on Dutch modernization has shifted from the nineteenth century to the Golden Age of the seventeenth century. In the ‘traditional’ interpretation the Netherlands did not industrialize until well into the second half of the nineteenth century, while the preceding period was allegedly characterized by long-term stagnation (van Zanden 1989). The latest view-put forward by de Vries and van der Woude (1997a)—contends that the Netherlands was a modern economy as early as the Golden Age. This would reduce or at least change the significance of nineteenth-century industrialization.