The history of woolen manufacture is ancient history. From medieval times to the nineteenth century, woolen broadcloth manufacture was an English industry of major importance. One major difference between the English and American experiences in industrialization was the disinterest among Americans in stationary steam engines. American woolen manufacturers not only tried to rationalize their mechanical processes and techniques, but by the late 1820s were trying with modest success to rationalize and systematize their accounting methods, most particularly their methods for determining costs. Since wool was a major ingredient of costs, a price difference of 10 percent from one year to the next could mean profit or loss to a given manufacturer. Prices of merino wool often went up or down in a year. Many factories expanded seemingly in the face of annual losses. This last was possible because the economy was so completely credit based. Traditional techniques change slowly, and indeed woolen manufacturing technology in England did change slowly.