… is from page 140 of Mark Kurlansky’s splendid 2002 book, Salt: A World History:
The salt shortage in the northern fisheries was solved by a commercial group that organized both herring and salt trades. Between 1250 and 1350, a group of small associations in northern German cities formed. Known as the Hanseatic League, from the Middle High German word, Hanse, meaning “fellowship,” these associations pooled their resources to form more powerful groups to act in their commercial interests. They stopped piracy in the Baltic, initiated quality control on traded items, established commercial laws, provided reliable nautical charts, and built lighthouses and other aids to navigation.
Before the Hanseatics gained control of the northern herring trade, peat salt was often laced with ashes, and inferior, even rotten herring was commonly sold….
The Hanseatics guaranteed that an entire barrel was of quality. Those caught placing bad herring in the bottom of a barrel were heavily fined and forced to return the payment they received.
DBx: Now who’d a-thunk that the provision of public goods, including law, could be effectively carried out by any organization other than a sovereign state?