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Verso of a trade card of James Butler, Haberdasher, Pall Mall
P.12666-R

The other side of the sheet and a full transcription of the bill is available on the museum's online collections explorer.

Haberdashers in the eighteenth century housed an overwhelming variety of stock, from trimmings to fashionable accessories, such as earrings and necklaces. Lists often concluded with notes at the bottom, as if a statement were a late but important addition to the stock, such as 'NB. Ladies Brunswick Dresses made.' Indeed, some haberdashers put emphasis on fashion: Croft & Saltzman of Henrietta Street Covent Garden boasted that they had 'All sorts of Ladies Stays, Habbits, Brunswick & Masquerade-Dresses, Sacques, Gowns, Young Ladies Slips & Robe-coats'. They also highlighted a range of fabrics suitable for 'Ladies Riding Dresses', a fashionable garment of the time, see Andrew Schabner.

James Butler's card has a slightly different emphasis, stating that he had 'Canvas, and Bolter for Cross, and Tent Stitch / Pattens drawn for all Sorts of Work, & all Materials / For Working'. The bill on the back of the sheet, addressed to Mrs Blathwayt, is one of four haberdasher bills in the collection that record the purchase of sewing materials. Mary Blathwayt would have had servants to undertake plain sewing (although this mundane work was apparently also outsourced, as plenty of the bills mention 'mending' garments; see the breeches maker Rowe Brown). Decorative embroidery, however, was a likely handicraft for a genteel woman to cultivate. Some married women who excelled at this skill would embroider clothing or produce household furnishings, such as bed hangings or upholstery for chairs. This bill shows that along with the silk thread Mrs Blathwayt requested 'canvas', which would have been fixed to a frame for working. An inventory of the Blathwayt's family seat, Dyrham Park near Bath (held at Gloucester Archives), describes a 'Bedstead w.th needle work furniture' and 'Chairs backs & seats coverd w.th Needle work'. In the Fitzwilliam museum's collection is this decorative pictorial sampler embroidered by a young girl. It is decorated with a flowing border of flowers and leaves more commonly seen on furniture of the period than on samplers.

Embroidery was also framed to be hung on a wall. That this was a common enough occurence is revealed by the engraved lettering on surviving trade cards of contemporary picture framers, such as that of Allen Woodburn (1786-1851), on St Martin's Lane, Charing Cross, which features a statement on the bottom of the central oval that reads 'Paintings, Prints & Needlework neatly Framed and Glazed.'

Trade card of Allen Woodburn stuck on the back of the frame of Nathaniel Hone's portrait of General Lloyd (457)

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