My previous blog described Johnstone’s London Commercial Guide,1 published in 1818. The guide includes a street directory showing which individual or business worked at a specific address. I had been browsing Johnstone’s guide to find surgeons who were practicing in London around that time. Here are a few other tidbits I found in this interesting tome.
The Regency Fashion IndustryOn virtually every page of Johnstone’s 851-page street directory, you’ll find a manufacturer serving the fashion industry. There were lace merchants and ribbon manufacturers and purveyors of ladies’ shoes. Indeed, there were manufacturers of every stripe: silk and crape, bombazin [sic], lace, wool, combs, hose, boots, straw bonnets, buttons, fur, hats, breeches, stays and corsets, gloves, and patten shoes. You may recall that Lady Russell—Anne Elliot’s god-mother in Jane Austen’s Persuasion—had no compliant about “the muffin-men and milk-men, and ceaseless clink of pattens” she heard on entering Bath one wet afternoon.2 New to me was the term galloon. A galloon is a woven, often braided trim usually have scalloped edges. Check out this photo of galloon trim on a young man’s livery outfit.
Basic Regency Accoutrements
Johnstone’s guide also listed manufacturers of powder-flasks and bugle horns and ornamental hair; watches and jewelry and looking-glass, sticks and umbrellas—every accoutrement the fashionably-dressed man or woman needed. If a Regency lady desperately needed lace, her choice might have been Mary Morgan’s shop in St. James’s Place, which dealt in British lace.3 If she needed fresh ostrich feathers for her favorite hat, she might send a servant to Poneau’s Ostrich Feather Warehouse at #28 Air Street.4 Feathers were very expensive during the Regency era and were bought mainly by members of the upper class. (Those of you desiring more information about feathers and fashion can read Kathryn Kane’s excellent blog on the use of feathers during the Regency.)
A Solar Tincture Warehouse
At #16 Albion Street in Blackfriars, Johnstone’s directory lists two occupants: J. Mules, linen draper & haberdasher, and C.W. Saffell, Solar tincture warehouse.5 I had never heard of a solar tincture. A Google search returned a delightful blog on this very topic. According to The Quack Doctor, one Dr. Sibly sold patent medicines in England during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. One of his most popular concoctions was a solar tincture—a reanimating tincture that “supersedes every art and invention” in restoring life due to sudden death. His restorative medicine was said to apply to all circumstances, whether it was death by suicide or strangulation, by a fit or fall or drowning, or by being struck by lightning or run through with a sword in a duel. His concoction was popular at a time when it was not always easy to determine whether a person was actually dead. Many people feared being buried alive because the appropriate anatomical checks had not been done to prove that they were, in fact, dead. Dr. Sibly’s preparation might have rivaled that of the “smoke-up-the-arse” treatment that supposedly restored a dead person to life.
Name DroppersIt seems churlish to accuse some Regency merchants of name dropping. After all, today almost everybody wears and uses products that are famously branded to show which company produced them. In Johnstone’s directory, an entry for #18 Bond Street (OLD) in Piccadilly reads: Allen & Wilson, Tailors to the D. of Y. The “D. of Y.” refers to Prince Frederick, the Duke of York. Prince Frederick was the second son of King George III and served as Commander-in-Chief during the Napoleonic Wars on the continent. A man of his lofty status must require the finest robes, coats, shoes, hosiery, wigs and small clothes. Any merchant who listed himself in this fashion was guaranteed to attract business.
Next door to Allen & Wilson at # 19 Old Bond Street was B. Odell, “gold lacemaker to her R. H. P. of W.” or her Royal Highness, the Princess of Wales. The Princess spoken of here was Princess Charlotte of Wales. Her father was George, Prince of Wales—Prinny, as he was called by the public—who served as Prince Regent during his father’s declining years and himself ascended the throne, becoming King George IV on his father’s death in 1820. In some ways Princess Charlotte did not have a happy childhood, for her parents were forever at war with one another, but presumably B. Odell kept her supplied with gold lace for every elegant function. The British people were fond of Princess Charlotte and mourned her unexpected death at the age of 21 following childbirth in 1817.
John Murray, Bookseller and Librarian
John Murray (1778-1843) published Jane Austen’s novels Emma and Mansfield Park during her lifetime. After her death in 1817, he published Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. His establishment was located at No. 50, Albemarle Street, according to Johnstone’s guide.6 Louise Allen indicates in her excellent book, Walking Jane Austen’s London, that the Murray business has been located at No. 50 Albemarle Street since 1812.
Today Albemarle Street looks rather tired, as seen in the photo below. For those who like to orient themselves. Albemarle Street is on the north side of Piccadilly and east of Berkeley Square.
1Johnstone’s London Commercial Guide, and Street Directory; on a New and More Efficient Principle than Any Yet Established. (London: Bernard and Farley, 1818), title page (PDF p. 6).
2Austen, Jane. Persuasion. (Kindle edition, p. 231 [Chapter 14]).
3Johnstone, p. 6 (PDF p. 38).
4Ibid., p. 425 (PDF p. 248).
5Ibid., p. 7 (PDF p. 39).
6Ibid., p. 6 (PDF p. 38).