Friday, October 18, 2013

The Commerical Directory's Miscellaneous Tradesmen, etc.

The Commercial Directory of which the above is the title-page was chock-full of information. Anything needed to carry on business in the northern part of England was included. For every sizable town, there are lists of businesses, lists of carriers both land and water, bankers, and post offices.

The merchants, manufacturers and etc. for each place are categorized. Categories include ironmongers, linen drapers and surgeons. Inns and coopers, attornies [sic], and cabinetmakers are well-represented. There are at least three entries in every grouping. Also, there are multiple entries for crafts and jobs that scarcely exist any more: stone masons, and woolstaplers, and bell hangers. But for every town there is a 'miscellaneous' section. These are people working uniquely at a craft or occupation in their community.

For Birmingham, the 'miscellaneous' list is large, reflecting the fact that the entire list of Birmingham occupations takes up more than thirty-five pages in the directory. Here is a portion of the 'miscellaneous' category:

It was remarkable how many items were manufactured by small, independent workers. Things that now are turned out in the millions by huge factories were, during the Regency, produced by individuals often working in their own homes. For example, above Ralph Heaton, a button-shank-maker, and William Evans, key-maker.

from The Book of English Trades
There were specialist manufacturers: John Taylor, sword and bayonet scabbard-maker, and Moses Westwood, plated metal and brass ball-maker. And specialist merchants: S. and J. Waddington hop and seed merchants, and John Harris tallow & yarn merchant. And there are of course manufacturers and sellers of things that we no longer recognize e.g. Derbyshire spars, and patent shoe-latchets.

This Commercial Directory makes it clear that the Regency world was a bustling, mercenary place. Those with a trade or a craft were fortunate indeed, earning a living by providing a product to turn the wheels of commerce.

I will be revisiting the Commercial Directory in the future to share more of its fascinating information.

'Til next time,


N.B. Both The Book of English Trades and The Commercial Directory for 1818-19-20 are available from Google Books.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Scotland 1801, courtesy of Mr. Dibdin's 'Observations on a Tour...'

The picture above is of Gretna Green. It's not a scene we recognize or expect when we hear the name of that Scottish town.

The picture--an engraving of an original painting--comes from a book titled, "Observations on a Tour Through almost the Whole of England, and a Considerable Part of Scotland..." by Mr. Dibdin. The author, Mr. C. Dibdin, is likely Charles Dibdin, a musician, dramatist, novelist, and more, who lived 1745-1814. It could be that the book was written and illustrated by his son, Charles the Younger; their work is frequently confused. The vignettes that accompanied the work (examples below) were 'invented, drawn, and put on the copper' by Miss Dibdin. Both Charles the Elder and the Younger were possessed of daughters. I can find no information about her.
Vignette by Miss Dibdin titled 'Scotch Preaching'
The book is a fascinating one, showing a series of tranquil, almost soporific, scenes across the northern and eastern parts of England and the south of Scotland. I have chosen to illustrate the Scottish pictures as the engravings show the beauty of that powerful and memorable landscape in unfamiliar ways.
Loch Lomond from Belretiro [villa]

Approach to Edinburgh

Edinburgh from Kinghorn [across the Firth of Forth]

Loch Leven [west coast of Scotland]
The Lomonds [Trossach Mountains]
There are more wonderful pictures--the 'Carse of Gowry','Nearer to Dundee', 'Castle of Gloom', but we'll end with another of Miss Dibdin's vignettes, this one called simply 'Scotch Family'.

Another time I will post some of the pictures of England from the book; the vignettes you will see from time to time on my Facebook and my Tumblr. They are wonderful little scenes of Regency life. Mr. Dibdin's book, in two volumes, is available for download from Google Books. Enjoy!

'Til next time,