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Richard Dighton’s City Characters

January 22, 2024
by the gentle author

In contrast to yesterday’s ‘Costume of the Lower Orders of the Metropolis’, I thought I would publish Richard Dighton’s ‘City Characters’ from 1824 in the archive at the Bishopsgate Institute.



Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

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John Thomas Smith’s Vagabondiana of 1817

6 Responses leave one →
  1. January 22, 2024

    Very interesting. And once again it shows me that 200 years ago there was a much more sophisticated and refined fashion than today. Today everything is STYLESS and UNIFORM — when I look at “the people” today I have to realise this: Young men and women with high-water trousers, bare ankles, ultra-ugly “sports shoes” (which, by the way, kill EVERY “STYLE”!!!) are the order of the day. And NOTHING has changed in what feels like 20 years. At least: flared trousers and wide trousers are finally coming back. What a blessing!

    And when I look at the pictures, I also realise: even slightly more corpulent men look fantastically elegant in their outfits!

    Love & Peace

  2. January 22, 2024

    Dighton is my family name. I have looked for links to the “famous Dightons” but alas, yet again, I think my family aligns with the infamous.
    The costumes are fascinating and depict very clearly the fashions of the day for gentleman. A large belly was obviously also very à la mode for city gents!

  3. Mark permalink
    January 22, 2024

    Delightful and amusing, probably unlike the people being caricatured.
    Similar to the Spy cartoons which came later, perhaps not as cutting.

  4. Jill Wilson permalink
    January 22, 2024

    These are great reference pictures for period costumes – thank you! For example I hadn’t realised that top hats had become fashionable that early.

  5. January 22, 2024

    Ah, readers, let’s lurk behind a column and see if we can overhear the dialog of these prosperous

    “……for upon my life I don’t know anybody to go to it…………..I don’t mind if a lunch is provided”
    observed the gentleman with the excrescence on his nose. “But I must be fed.”

    Thank you GA and Richard Dighton. (oh, and Charles Dickens)

  6. Annie S permalink
    January 23, 2024

    Seeing illustration number 12 I can now understand what my grandmother, born 1890, meant when she referred to a man having a ‘corporation stomach’!

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