Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Wearing Out Of Date Clothing. Old Clothes Sellers.

I have spoken before about the using of equipment and clothing from an earlier period than ones interpretation. On the frontiers style was not only slow to change, but it really had no place at all. What was important was being comfortable in the clothing you wore, and the equipment you used. Both had to be hardy and functional. Home made clothing would I think have tended to follow a set style, one the women folk were used to making, and the men used to wearing. The same goes for the women.
But until recently I had not considered second hand clothing dealers. Then I came across this etching of an old clothes street vendor and I realised that this opened up a whole new outlook for the wearing of out of date clothing. Apparently not only were these clothing items bought and sold in a town or city in England, but they were also exported overseas!

Contrary to the impression generally given, the old-clothes trade was
not primarily devoted to buying and refurbishing hawkers' goods, known
as 'clobbering'. London was certainly a centre for the wholesale traffic in
used clothing. This is borne out by the known export of bales of clothes,
carpets and so on to Belgium, France and specifically to Holland and later
South America, some of them purchased by wealthy merchants from
different parts of the United Kingdom and Europe (for example, Lazarus
Jacobs48 and Samuel Wolf Oppenheimer from Paris49 and Jacob Schloss from
Frankfurt).50 The first stage of this seemingly lucrative trade was
performed by the old-clothes hawker. A traveller towards the end of the
18th century says that the poorer class wander through the streets of
London, calling 'old clothes', 'which they buy up and mostly send
abroad'.51 This export trade continued well towards the end of the 19th
century, as is confirmed by the case of Solomon Joseph, who was a dealer in
new and second-hand clothing and was said to have bought his
merchandise for colonial export.52

Old-clothes men: 18th and 19th centuries*

By Edme Bouchardon 18th century.

By Paul Sandby 1759.

A Rag Fair in Rosemary Lane By Thomas Rowlandson late 18th century.


Gorges Smythe said...

And then there's hand-me-downs.

Le Loup said...

Gorges. Yes of course, I was forgetting about hand me downs! Well done.

Gail Kellogg Hope said...

Look into the laws about pulling clothes off of street corpses. You'll get a giggle.