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Costume of the Metropolis

January 21, 2024
by the gentle author

Despite the patronising pseudo-ethnographic tile, Thomas Lord Busby’s ‘Costumes of the Lower Orders of the Metropolis’  offer an evocative glimpse of London street life two hundred years ago.

Images courtesy Getty Research Institute

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Andy Strowman permalink
    January 21, 2024

    I would like to pay homage to Gentle Author for bringing us these people to our screens .
    I pay in humbleness Moyra Peralta too for I am suddenly linked to the people she photographed in her amazing book called “Nearly Invisible “.
    At one point some of the street people were asked what they had on them ?
    Amazing interesting stuff .
    Now imagine the homes of these street sellers or traders and picture them .
    I still remember a friend called who lived in Dalston and what he had in his one bedroom place .

    I think we honour these people much like Anna Sewell honoured John Manly and Blsck Besuty in her epic book which I have read twenty times .

  2. January 21, 2024

    A very interesting set of illustrations. I wonder why the top text is in French? An interesting view of the costumes and accoutrements of the trades.

  3. Greg T permalink
    January 21, 2024

    Itinerant knife-Grinders/Scissor-sharpeners certainly lasted until the mid-1950’s

  4. Hetty Startup permalink
    January 21, 2024

    The evocation of much dignity in labor/labour is shown here. Thank you! Some of them remind me of depictions of allegories of the seasons or months of the year. The beer merchant looks like a sans-coulottes with his distinctive hat (if it were red rather than robin’s egg blue).

    When I was growing up, the rag and bone man and a knife/scissors grinder service were still seen on the streets of Shepherds Bush/Hammersmith. Also, milk delivery. However, there were houses near us that had the sign “No hawkers, circulars” screwed to the door.

    I see in the Gentle Author’s future an interesting book about the history of the cries and trades of London beginning with Marcellus Larroon (sp?).

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