Spring in our step!

HERE WE ARE…back from an eventful weekend’s May day and Morris.

Delphi dog enjoyed herself so much she has taken two days to recover! And me…well…Real Life must go on. It’s alright for dogs! Whoever said it was a dog’s life wasn’t being funny! They don’t have to do washing and ironing and…well of course, blogging! 🙂

Hope you all had a Good Spring Celebration. Me? Well I bought a new computer this weekend so that my elderly Mac can have a rest from blogging ( he was getting  s l o w e r  and  s  l  o  w  e  r  at loading photos etc. ) and now he can just do those things he is used to and likes doing….poor soul. I had better sell a lot of work soon as the new Mac has cost both an arm and a leg plus a head of hair as well.  🙂

costs the earth...and hair!

But goodness me…how wonderful things are on it! The graphics are incredible…so let’s play around with a few more dummy boards just to test the capabilities of the new system and see how nice they look. ( Those of you who are not on Macs… never mind….. but you don’t know what you are missing!) 😉

Before I launch into a new post proper, may I say Welcome, to all my new followers. When I started this blog I had no idea that so many of you would find the subjects I witter on about, interesting. I’m glad you do and I’ll try to keep being interesting 🙂

Let’s go back to the list we made in one of the first posts  ( A Taste for the Tiny ) and see what kinds of figures we might explore. Those who have seen this list before scroll down, unless you want to refresh your memory. To make it fun, do you want to see how many groups you can identify in my little story? I shall add the answers at the bottom of this post!

  1. Servants- doing all sorts of things from cooking to sitting smoking a pipe.
  2. Sweeping Maids- although these are actually servants ( some of the time ) they can also be a totally separate group as there are so many of them.
  3. Seated figures ( doing a multitude of things ). See what I mean about being in many groups at once?)
  4. Children, perhaps the most common group to be seen today and the most endearing.
  5. Figures that were designed for the theatre.
  6. Animals from rabbits to lions.
  7. Soldiers of all denominations.
  8. The common folk, some of which may or may not be servants.
  9. Ladies and Gents- definitely not the common rabble. Some may be fashion plates, some portraits and some may be in regional costume.
  10. Saints and other religious figures
  11. Native American Indians- one of the most rare figures you can find.
  12. And THE most rare group of all- Sailors, Scotsman and Blackamoors ( figures of black people ).
  13. Inanimate objects like vases and piles of books.
  14. We also find some tiny, tiny figures. These can be figures which are made as curiosities or for display in a dolls house.

Quite a few of these we have dipped into already. Shall we see how many we might find if we take a Spring walk along a London Street in about 1720 ?

What would we notice?

Firstly, the mess and the smell! It doesn’t really depend where in London we are as it’s all smelly, either with wood/coal smoke or animal/human dung underfoot or with rubbish thrown out onto heaps here and there. The more fashionable streets would be cleared regularly, shall we stick to those then?

We have found ourselves in Covent Garden ( in the daytime mind…it’s not so salubrious after dark ) and we promenade around with all the other fashionable folk.

Covent Garden coffee house c. 1738

What might we be wearing?

Chateau de Malle Man with hat c. 1700 4 ft.

No 1. Chateau de Malle Man with hat c. 1700 4 ft.

If we are a Gentleman then a long satin waistcoat with many lovely buttons would be the order of the day. Over this we would be wearing a long coat called sometimes, a jupon, which has many pleats in the back. We would always take our tricorn hat with us to keep us from the weather and around our neck the newly fashionable Steinkirk, a long piece of material rather like a cravat with a beautiful piece of lace tacked onto the end.

For the ladies then a Manteau is a must! A dress which has an open front to show off our very beautiful petticoat, sometimes with the side panels looped up, We would wear stays underneath a fine embroidered stomacher to give us a nice waisted appearance all topped off with the Fontange….a confection of ribbon and lace piled into our hair. And don’t forget the gloves…nice red kid leather gloves and a flirtatious little fan to dazzle the menfolk

No. 2 Chateau de Malle lady c. 1700 4ft.

So off we go!

AH! yes..look…..there are two dummy boards, leaning up against the wall of a theatre. They are an advert…we recognise that sort of figure. There is probably a play on in the playhouse and they are there to draw in the punters. It might be Shakespeare.

No.3 Two 'Roman soldiers' 19th century 5 ft.

Can we hear music? There are several performers ( as there are today in our own age at Covent Garden ) playing around the perimeter of the Piazza.

No. 4 Street musician c. 1780 5 ft

Is that a little barrel organ? Can we also hear the diminutive Baroque guitar too; two people singing different songs; what a cacophony.

No 5 Street Musician c. 1780 5ft.The Victoria and Albert Museum London

It’s as noisy as it is smelly! 🙂

Overlying this we can hear cries of the pedlars. Flower sellers, hot pie men, milk maids…..Jewish bric-a-brac sellers… Aha…there are dummy boards of these too.

No 6 The Jewish Pedlar 1780 5 ft. The Victoria and Albert museum

Going from stall to stall, for this is a market too, of course, are servants of all kinds, purchasing goodies for their masters’ suppers. Everything has to be bought on the day, everything has to be fresh. No freezers and no supermarkets open all hours to just nip into.

No 7 The life sized lady with pail Brighton Museum c.1780

With the onset of dusk, all is packed up and the vendors melt away.  The streets become full of the debris left behind….old cabbage stalks, spilt milk, bits of gristle and bone from the pies and with darkness detritus of another sort can be found here too… beggars combing the ground for edible bits ( they will pounce on that piece of discarded gristle and bone ), muggers, roaring boys ( nasty violent drunks ) and prostitutes with their pimps.

No 8 The green man a 19th Swedish dummy board

Better make our way home to a better area of the town I think. One which has more light because the posher private houses hang torches outside to light the way and the criminal set are not so brazen.

fashionable early 18th century house

No 9 The life sized Leeuwarden Sweeper c. 1760

On the way home we pass a friend’s front door; their servant is standing sweeping off the doorstep and she tells us that there is a Private Party…a Masquerade, tonight, in one of these posh new fashionable houses, in the expanding West End of London. We are invited! There will be dancing, card games, music and lots of food ( not a  gristly pie in sight!).

But that is another story…..

Shall we rush home to change?


  1. Number one is a fashionable gentleman so group nine.
  2. A fashionable lady so group nine too.
  3. Two theatre soldiers so groups  five and seven.
  4. The Street musician is a common man so group eight.
  5. The same for the lady with the guitar
  6. And the same for the pedlar
  7. The lady with pail is a servant so group one. She is also a ‘common person’ so she can be in group eight too.
  8. The green man is a dueller actually ( I think ) though he is also called a huntsman. He can be in group one, five and eight.
  9. The Leeuwarden sweeper is also a servant but she is a sweeper too so groups one and two.

One Response to “Spring in our step!”

  1. It’s Party Night! « Pastmastery's Blog Says:

    […] It’s Party Night! By pastmastery A while ago I wrote a post about us gadding around the 17/18th century London Streets in search of dummy boards. Spring in our Step […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: