Humorous Perceptions, Apprenticeships, Making Things and the Transportation of Goods (Case 9, nos. 213-244)
Tradesmen were often depicted, whether in books, journals, prints or in their own trade cards. They were also not infrequently the butt of humour. Many humorous prints relate to barbers, but more for the wigs of the customers than for the practice of their own trade.
Valentine writers (books of verses intended to be sent on St Valentine’s Day) related to many social spheres and relied heavily on puns relevant to the intended recipient. Example of valentine writers for tradesmen are at nos. 215 and 216.
Popular prints would show craftsmen, such as basket makers, coopers or brick makers, at their trade. These prints are not humorous and their aim seems to have been to instruct the public, often the juvenile public, in how things were made.
In order to exercise a trade, an apprenticeship had to be served. Trade cards occasionally give valuable information about a tradesman’s former master, or advertise for an apprentice.
The trade cards showing the skills of several craftsmen are mainly 19th century. Those of Tatlow & Johnson (no. 223) and Benjamin Pearkes (no. 27) are early (1760s) examples of the genre.
Transportation of Goods
Much of the end of the section relates to the transport and warehousing of goods, as important to trade in the 18th and 19th centuries as it is today. When so much was conveyed by sea, and so many consumables had to be imported, complicated arrangements had to be made for the storage of goods and their conveyance to and from the provinces. Goods would be shipped around the coast of Britain and brought inland from ports. London was very busy and it could take a week to get from London Bridge to Blackwall by river. The roles of wharfinger, warehouseman and shipping agent were crucial for the conveyance of goods to the eventual tradesman.