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Costume Of The Lower Orders Of The Metropolis

February 23, 2021
by the gentle author

Now the streets are empty of people, I can more easily imagine the presence of those from the past who passed through these same spaces long ago. In these circumstances, it would not entirely surprise me to encounter one of Thomas Lord Busby’s pedlars from 1820 upon my daily walk through the deserted city.

Images courtesy Getty Research Institute

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T L Busby’s Costume of the Lower Orders

8 Responses leave one →
  1. alan beecham permalink
    February 23, 2021

    I have great respect for these people. In many cases, the goods they were carrying must have been so heavy, and no doubt out in all weathers day after day.
    I’m also curious about the necessity of the French translation. Could this possibly have been for the benefit of London’s Huguenot population ?

  2. February 23, 2021

    I am a tad late on this one, another fine follower here offered the question up previously, but being a Canadian I was intrigued by the bilingual nature of these particular “card” sketches?

  3. February 23, 2021

    The full panoply is wonderful, previously unknown to me, and the clothes are a real inspiration. How did these trades pursue their routes – from a nearby warehouse? Surely they did not walk into the city with only as many geese or whatever as they could carry?

  4. Boudica Redd permalink
    February 23, 2021

    Great story and pics bravo even thou thee people of past tymes don’t walk thee streets of lunden any more but they left their ghostly signature behind to thus return to haunt again we all have a signature that in our lyfes we leave behind you

  5. David Hunt permalink
    February 23, 2021

    Wonderful -such a range of trades – some unknown to me (Packthread?) And the costumes are very interesting,,,keep up the wonderful work you do Gentle Author

  6. February 23, 2021

    Thank you once again for a thrilling journey through old London, meeting the vibrant real characters of the East End. Although I live in New Zealand I feel a strong connection to this part of London, the streets where my ancestors walked. You have changed the narrative of London from being one where only Dickens broke through the ranks of the gentry, the snobbery which gushed down from the upper class. Your wise and gentle sharing, so beautifully articulated has brought pleasure to so many readers and inspired so many writers.

  7. Ros permalink
    February 24, 2021

    Ficelle is usually translated as string but it seems packthread is a specially strong kind for parcels – I wonder if the word is still used or if sticky tape and later developments have completely taken over. I too would love to know more about these wonderfully characterful drawings with bi-lingual captions. The clothes people wore! All those buttons! And who would carry stoves on his back – heavier than geese for sure. And the rash on the feet of the rags gatherer – fleas or worse? And the cocoa dispenser is surely the forerunner of the espresso machine – do all those pipes siphon a mixture of hot water and milk through under pressure? How did the vendor wear such a heavy (and hot?) contraption on his back?

  8. February 25, 2021

    It’s only one man’s opinion; but as an answer to the bilingual captions, I propose the following: the style of the artwork — with one single, important, exception which we’ll deal with presently — seems very french and not English; and the first caption is the french one. The exception is…the title page, which strikes me as VERY English in style….and which carries its title in one language alone: English. My suggestion is that the English publisher was able to purchase the plates and perhaps had the English translations added (or they might have been there to begin with; continental engravings were sometimes multilingual); a new title page was then created for domestic sale.

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