Abstract: Market Calculation and the Property Market Press in Britain, c. 1850-1920

Desmond Fitz-Gibbon


The British "property market" was invented sometime around 1875, according to the <em>Oxford English Dictionary</em>, and by the end of the First World War news of it had become, in the words of <em>The Times</em>, "a regular daily feature," part of an "awakening of general interest in the property market ... [which had] concentrated attention upon the investment possibilities of what had been too long regarded as concerning only a limited class." This paper argues that the emergence of property market news in the late nineteenth century was, in fact, integral to the coordination of market practice; that the property market, in other words, emerged as the achievement of efforts to calculate its various shapes and movements in the pages of late Victorian newspapers and periodicals. This development is traced from the 1850s, when the first real estate trade periodicals began to formally coordinate and publish sales information, through the 1880s, 1890s and 1900s, when property market reports migrated from trade periodicals to the pages of the daily press and when the politics of understanding market trends and market values spilled into much larger public debates surrounding land and property ownership in Victorian and Edwardian Britain.