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Richard Dighton’s City Characters, 1824

December 9, 2016
by the gentle author

Fat cats in the City of London are nothing new as these elegant cartoons of Regency bankers by Richard Dighton that I discovered in the archive at the Bishopsgate Institute testify

Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

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John Thomas Smith’s Vagabondiana of 1817

5 Responses leave one →
  1. December 9, 2016

    How peculiar. The drawings are not at all flattering but presumably they were done with consent of the subject. Maybe the subjects were flattered to have been selected?
    What a huge collection of huge stomachs.

  2. December 9, 2016

    A super quality blog today, they are spot on 19thC period characters. In fact they are so good they are ready to jump out and shake us by the hand introducing themselves. I can imagine one would say ” I’m from Lloyds and I’ve lost a packet four of my registered ships went down last night, can you help me” please! His face says it all. Poet John

  3. December 9, 2016

    At this time of year, it is unavoidable to think of the wonderful character actors in “A Christmas Carol”; commenting on whether they will consent to attend Scrooge’s funeral. “Well, perhaps…..but I MUST be fed.” Exactly.
    This post was mother’s milk for the History of Costume hounds, and I thank you.

  4. Ros permalink
    December 9, 2016

    These are wonderful. Great to be reminded that there is nothing new under the sun, ‘is camomile a drug?’ mirroring current doping conundrums exactly! And nice pun on corporation. Think TB is true blue. Lots here for Joseph Merceron to have modelled himself on.

  5. Julian Woodford permalink
    December 11, 2016

    It’s funny Ros should mention that, I was thinking the same thing! This is one of several similar publications by Dighton of both City and West End characters. The NPG has copies of most ( see and has managed to put names on most of them. Among them are several characters mentioned in ‘The Boss of Bethnal Green’: Sir Francis Burdett, George Byng, William Curtis, William Mellish. There are a few unknown portraits on the NPG list and I did wonder if one of them just might be the seemingly portrait-shy Mr Merceron himself! Finally, note that Dighton himself got into trouble in 1806 for stealing prints from the British Museum!

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