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Old-clothes men: 18th and 19th centuries

Betty Naggar

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Old-clothes men: 18th and 19th centuries* BETTY NAGGAR I have decided to devote this paper to two aspects of the lives of old clothes men: the gathering of old clothes to the clothes exchanges, and crime. The trade in old clothes was a long-established one in England, and had existed in an organized fashion since at least the late-16th century. Poor people could not afford new clothes, principally because the cost of materials was very high, and distribution was also a problem, though a lessening one. Spanish and Portuguese Sephardic Jews fleeing the Inquisition began to arrive in London in the early- to mid-17th century. By 1680 Dutch and German Jews appeared; Russian and Polish Jews followed, escaping the increasingly restrictive laws in their countries, as well as pogroms. Unlike the majority of the Sephardim, the later arrivals were mostly penniless. Many of the 18th- and 19th-century Jewish immigrants were untrained, and in England it was not possible for them to enter the many trades ruled by Guilds, or, indeed, to pay the fees for apprenticeships. So it was natural for them to turn to peddling or to the hawking of old clothes, since many of them had been pedlars in their own countries. Hawkers of old clothes, and pedlars of various small goods - mostly watches and cheap jewellery - although apparently engaged in similar jobs which sometimes overlapped, had basically different working lives. The established small Sephardi community, which lived on sufferance and as far as possible out of the public eye, was afraid that the hordes of immigrants would reflect badly on them, and particularly that they would be a heavy tax on its resources. The community therefore was happy to give a couple of guineas to each Sephardi immigrant to start him off with a pedlar's pack and a few cheap goods, or the wherewithal to start as an old-clothes man;1 and the same system was later applied to Ashkenazim. Sometimes the money was repaid on a weekly or monthly basis; occasionally they might borrow from a neighbour or an inn. In the latter case the interest payable was 2d a day for 2 shillings, 3d for 5 shillings, 6d for 10 shillings and 1 shilling for a ?1.2 Because they had no capital the men were forced to sell in the afternoon whatever they had bought in the morning. * Paper presented to the Society on 11 January 1990. 171</page><page sequence="2">Betty Naggar The old-clothes men rose early and worked until fairly late. They were up soon after sunrise in summer, and while it was still dark in winter. They would go to one of the coffee houses near where they lived, such as those in Houndsditch. Here they would have breakfast, and this seems to be all they ate until they returned home in the evening.3 The men were deeply religious, and preferred to suffer hunger than to break the Jewish law. During the day they might eat some dry bread and drink water; although they were sometimes accused of begrudging themselves a bite to eat for fear of losing a deal, it was more likely they were obeying religious dictates.4 Moses Jacobs, a pedlar, 'liked to walk all day and all night too' and 'would live on the smell of an oil rag'. He ate nothing all day, except for 'a tuppeny buster and a small bit of butter and some wishy-washy coffee'.5 Levi Nathan, old-clothes man, was also afraid to touch non-Jewish food, and was almost starving (so he said) because the Jews would not give or sell him any at all, owing to their disgust at the way he treated his wife. He drank tea all day long, and was always thankful to anyone who would allow him to boil up some water for it.6 Every old-clothesman had his 'walk', and they never impinged on each others' area. If they had to pass through another man's territory, they stopped calling their wares. Sometimes they agreed to share a walk, in which case each would take a different street, and share their profits at the end of the day. This was known as 'half Rybeck' or 'Kybeck', and was also resorted to when young boys were learning the trade, although the business was usually passed from father to son.7 Jewish children began to work very early, sometimes at eight or nine years old.8 The walks could be quite long, since even in town a man might travel fifteen miles in a day, wet or shine. As a little contemporary rhyme has it: He has travelled many miles today And many he must travel yet Though his heart is heavy And his garments wet.9 As they walked along, hungry and tired, a full bag hung over one shoulder, they would be on the lookout for customers, peering down into basements or up at windows, and into shops. To attract the attention of likely sellers, the men used to 'cry' or rather shout as they went along. The kind of cry for old-clothes men varies a little in contemporary descriptions, but in general they relied on the short words 'Clo' or 'Old Go'.10 Longer cries were 'Cloashes to sell, Cloashes round and sound'11 or 'old Rags Old Jags old bonnetts old bags' and so on.12 172</page><page sequence="3">Old-clothes men: 18th and 19th centuries CRIES OF LONDON. Old CW?OU Clo'J Plate 1. Noble Collection 21.21, Guildhall library, c. 1820. Perhaps because of their foreign accents they were said to cry with a 'peculiarly harsh and gutteral sound*.13 Coleridge, irritated by a hawker's raucous cry, asked an old-clothes man why he could not say plainly 'old clothes'. The man looked at him gravely, and replied with an excellent accent, 'Sir, I can say "Old Clothes" as well as you can, but if you had to say so ten times a minute for an hour together you would say "Ogh Clo" as I do now.' Coleridge owns he was so taken aback, he ran after the man and gave him a shilling which was all he had on him.14 173</page><page sequence="4">Betty Naggar A verse below an etching in one of the Cries of London series, draws a picture of the old-clothes man: The Jew would down the area peep To look for custom underground His bag he o'er his shoulder flung And to the footman sweetly sung Cloash to sell etc.15 The walks included every neighbourhood; the poorer quarters had more, but less-good quality goods for sale. Their first, very early calls would be with the men of Billingsgate, Newgate, Smithfield and Leadenhall markets.16 Some said the men bought from the rich, or the servants of the rich, to sell to the poor,17 but this is not strictly the case, as, for instance, they liked districts frequented by sailors. They would go to the marine stores in the mornings, and buy clothes which had been left the previous evening, as Jewish old clo' never walked the streets at night.18 In the more aristocratic parts of London, in the West End, they found much of their trade in the mews at the back of the big houses. Here lived the coachmen and their families above the stables, but also some of the men servants who might have their masters' cast-offs for sale. These too were among their early calls, as the coachmen and grooms were up, grooming the horses and cleaning the carriages. The old-clothes men also bought old livery, harness, linen, cloth, coach glasses (i.e. windows), saddles, in fact every article and even seemingly worthless ones.19 One hawker said he dealt with Hackney men (Hackneys were a type of hired coach) for hammer cloths and harness, as well as dealing in old clothes.20 They frequently walked the mews behind barracks, because the gold torn from uniforms was greatly prized,21 as the following rhyme which appears beneath a Cries of London, 1823, shows: Old clothes you often hear him say Perhaps you've some to sell today And you should see his smiling face At sound of gold or silver lace. At Woolwich, old-clothes-man Myers bought clothes from the Naval officers. He was very careful when buying articles from people bringing things that did not belong to them. Speaking of one client, he said firmly, 'If he had a watch or gold lace, I should have said "sailors do not belong to gold lace".'22 174</page><page sequence="5">Old-clothes men: 18th and 19th centuries Another of their regular visits was to the hulks in the Thames, where prisoners were kept before their transportation. They would have an arrangement with the captains, and even if they offered half-a-crown for a suit, the prisoners were obliged to accept, as they were not allowed to keep their own clothes.23 The old-clothes men preferred to deal in the small streets where middle-class families lived. This was where barter would come into play. The ladies liked china ornaments and glassware, and were happy to exchange their own and their husbands' old clothes for these articles; one man got 'a new great coat in exchange for a few trumpery tea things';24 and another obtained a whole suit in exchange for two geraniums.25 . /// v oltl (lotltes / Plate 2. Noble Collection 21.21, Guildhall Library, 1824 175</page><page sequence="6">Betty Naggar The ladies from the better houses were ashamed to be seen talking to an old-clothes man and would hustle him indoors; but they were expert at bargaining and would want a whole dressing table service for a few worn out waistcoats. Clo, Clo, have you any old clo, I've glasses and china a splendid show Trousers and coats no matter how old I'll change for china covered with gold.26 It must be said that the hawker's china and glass on offer was of an inferior kind: the glass even 'won't stand hot water'.27 As well as buying from houses, the men, and sometimes women, bought or sold by hazard in the streets. A girl said she saw Philip Abrahams buy a dress from an old-clothes man in the street, before she could make an offer for it. Asked if she often bought things in this manner, she replied 'Yes we frequently do'.28 Pasco Aranson, who was a traveller, asked an old clothes-man coming along Shoreditch if he had 'got anything in my way', as he often dealt with him;29 and John Dick was crossing Petticoat Lane when Mordecai the Jew stopped him, and offered him some glass he wanted to dispose of.30 As for David Mendes, he bought a bundle of handkerchiefs while he was sitting in a coffee house;31 and Samuel Smith, who said when he had money he bought anything he could, bought dresses (at least on one occasion) in the street, and sold them there too.32 Jew ])iiri'haMii?* old Cloth??**. Plate 3. Jew purchasing old clothes. Wood engraving, c.1800, printed and published by W. Dawson Alnwick. (See Alfred Rubens, A Jewish Iconography, note 1507, p.44 and AJHE 1224.) 176</page><page sequence="7">Old-clothes men: 18th and 19th centuries In the 18th century the old-clothes men took their purchases to Rag Fair, the old dealing district, to dispose of them. The place is described as 'a place in the middle of the street near the Tower',33 which was a space about ten yards square adjoining Cutler Street, White Street, Carter Street and Harrow Alley. The indescribable noise and confusion which went on there was often complained of by the local inhabitants. Plate 4. Rag fair, probably 18th century. There is a petition to the Justices of the Peace in 1701 from several of them of the 'Upper Hamlett of Rosemary Lane in the Parish of Whitechapel', which says 'dayley meetings are held and kept in the hamlett on pretence of custom of keeping a fair . . . which is called Ragg fair. These meetings are to buy and sell stolen goods and for the encouragement of all manner of wickedness.' The local people petitioned therefore for the fair to be suppressed.34 It was perhaps as a result of these complaints that a court order was issued suppressing such meetings 'held for buying and selling old goods, wearing apparell and other things (greatly supposed to be stolen) which 177</page><page sequence="8">Betty Naggar were unlawful and riotous'.35 In 1743 there is a petition from the inhabitants in and around Monmouth Street, who also complain of obstructions and hindrance 'owing to the many people who come every day to buy and sell old rags and other things' and 'they say it is a common nuisance to all the inhabitants as well as the alms women'.36 Again in 1782 it is stated that the Vestry of the Minories was continually troubled by 'the Jews and other people in front of the Minories', and incurred some expenses in driving them away. Six years later, in 1788, there were again complaints of 'the stoppages occasioned by the Old Clothes People', and the committee decided that they were a nuisance and ought to be removed. Consultations with the magistrates, and the delivery of a thousand hand bills (probably warning of dire consequences) by the Beadle to the hawkers had no effect, since in 1789 the Vestry sent a Committee to consult Mr Justice Staple on the most effective way of preventing 'the nuisance in the Front occasioned by the old clothes hawkers', and they decided to deal with them according to the law. No more is heard until 1806, when a certain Mr Sly had to be dealt with for a similar offence.37 It is possible that in about 1776 there was a forerunner to the Old Clothes Exchanges, a kind of meeting place in The Duke's Head, Saint Martins Street, Leicester Fields, where the old-clothes men bought and sold to each other, but if so, it would have been used solely for dealing and not for the general public.38 The trade was generally carried on in the open air until the 19th century, when in 1804 two enterprising firms opened Old Clothes Exchanges. For this venture a Mr Lewis Isaacs bought the houses which enclosed the back of Philip's Building, thus making room for an exchange which measured 100 by 70 ft.39 This was reached by two narrow lanes, and had an entrance in Houndsditch.40 It was a large plot of damp ground, through which one or two thousand people passed daily. It had a hoarding round it, with a narrow projecting roof just wide enough to shelter one person; and in the middle were four rows of chairs, back to back.41 It became 'a receptacle for every article collected in London and its environs and for fifteen to twenty miles around, brought there day by day and sold to parties who were called "forestallers".' These were the middlemen who bought the goods to sell again, either wholesale or retail. The opening of the Exchange is often given as 1843, but a series of engravings by Craig, dated 1805, of various pedlars in well-known streets and squares, in a book entitled Modern London, refutes this assumption, since the description facing a picture of a pedlar in Fitzroy Square says 178</page><page sequence="9">Old-clothes men: 18th and 19th centuries that a commodious Old-Clothes Exchange has been built adjoining Rosemary Lane.42 Plate 5. Old-clothes. Rtzroy Square. Etching executed by Craig, from Sir Richard Phillips, Modern London, 1804. 179</page><page sequence="10">Betty Naggar Commodious the building may have been, but at first all attempts to get the old-clothes men to use it failed, for they preferred their old haunts in the streets, 'to the annoyance of all who passed that way between twelve and three'. As time went on, however, they grew accustomed to the new order, and between half-past two and five o'clock in summer, and between three and four in winter, it was to the Exchange, amid the mounds of rags and tatters, that the hawkers brought their sacks bulging with the day's purchases. They would take a chair and empty their sack on the ground; the buyers pouncing on the clothes, picking them over and haggling over the price.43 Some of the old-clothes men carried the articles they had for sale on outstretched arms, but most of them carried their wares in bags. It cost a halfpenny entrance fee, except on Saturdays and Sundays when it was free, as there was little business, and anyway there was no trading on Saturday until after sundown. The trade in old clothes was slack from the winter until the spring; the best season was in early spring and through summer.44 The exchange is described by a visitor to the site as being a place 'where swarm and chatter among themselves the real old clo' men and women*. 'We passed', he says, 'through a great crowd of dirty ragged people to the number of some hundred, they appear to be very busy displaying and examining the old clothes which they were pulling out of bags'. Exhibited for sale were 'silk gowns and satin gowns, costly laces and shawls of Persia and India, tarnished, certainly but still with a thoroughbred air about them*.45 By 1849, the place had changed a little. Now there were rows of benches covered by narrow pitched roofs supported on beams, but open at the sides to wind and rain, which was said to be a good thing as the air blew away the musty smells.46 Cheap-food and drink vendors added to the crowds amid an appalling smell that reached 180</page><page sequence="11">Old-clothes men: 18th and 19th centuries into everyone's nostrils from streets away. A letter to The Times in 1832 said that even after night had fallen and the crowds withdrawn 'the stench in the streets is beyond endurance'.47 Contrary to the impression generally given, the old-clothes trade was not primarily devoted to buying and refurbishing hawkers7 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 A wealth of information on the practices and extent of the Clothes Exchange in the late-19th century can be derived from the Old Bailey sessions involving criminal cases, in particular the one brought against John Lipman in 1867. According to the evidence contained in this case, there were great quantities of clothes sold in the Exchange, thousands of pounds changing hands every day, with two or three thousand people buying and selling. The variety in the size of deals is remarkable. One John Philips replied to the comment 'you say the prisoner is not an extensive dealer' as follows: 'Well, he buys a coat for 9d and sells it for Is the same as I would do: I have known him buy as many as forty coats at a time, I have known him buy large quantities of things at sales and likewise in the market.' And he adds, 'there are a few large dealers and some large firms and some small ones: you can buy a pair of trousers for 9d there'. On one point there is consensus: no names, addresses, or questions are asked about any goods on offer. The reasons given for this vary, but seem to come under the heading of 'accepted practice'. Such a practice might have given rise to disproportionate and often unjust accusations that the old clothes hawkers were receivers of stolen goods. 181</page><page sequence="12">Betty Naggar Plate 7. Noble Collection 21.21, Guildhall Library, p.18. 182</page><page sequence="13">Old-clothes men: 18th and 19th centuries Elizabeth Aaron, a forthright and articulate woman, was in the unusual position for one of her sex of being a general dealer on the Exchange with clients all over the world. She says: 'We buy everyday from persons who come to us, I never ask questions of people who buy things. I buy them in public market and give a fair price, it is not the first time I have bought new goods in the market' (meaning that it is not unusual or necessarily criminally obtained). And she continues, 'I have bought from persons I did not know, during the day some things will change hands two or three times. If a man has goods I thought were right [i.e., not stolen] and that would suit me to get interest on, I should buy them. It is usual in the market to purchase of a person you don't know and without asking questions - you don't get the address of a person unless you go to a warehouse where you buy a large quantity of a stranger. I am not aware it is usual to ask questions, I never adopt that course.' John Adams confirms this: 'Unless we entertain suspicions we do not make enquiries of persons who bring things to sell'; and Joseph Phillips says, 'We are not supposed to take an invoice of everybody that comes into the market or we should have to take hundreds a day, because we buy and sell to a neighbour a minute afterwards.'53 Other witnesses confirm that with goods sold openly in the markets, it was not necessary to ask the identity of the seller or where he came from, or whether he had paid for them. The insistance of all witnesses that the goods in question were for sale in the public market, probably indicates they were aware of the ancient law of marchee ouverte which states that a person selling goods in the open, legal market, and also in some inns, cannot be accused of being a receiver of those articles even if they prove to have been stolen.54 The general drawing together of the dealers in defence of any of their colleagues rings true. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that these trade practices led in some cases to crime, and equally that many of the old clothes men were engaged in it, at least in a small way, as were many members of the lower classes or 'mob'. By its very nature, the secondhand clothes trade would have connections with criminals; robbers would come to it to dispose of their goods. Besides, the Jews who came from the ghettos of Europe lived in the poorest part of London - and the East End had always been a centre for dealing in second-hand and stolen goods - so its bad reputation was not entirely the fault of the old-clothes men. 183</page><page sequence="14">Betty Naggar Plate 8. Noble Collection 21.21, Guildhall Library, 1780. 184</page><page sequence="15">Old-clothes men: 18th and 19th centuries At worst, in the 18th century, it is said, the hawkers were bringing stolen goods into London from sea ports and the country, in one-horse carts.55 At best, they may have failed to enquire closely into the origins of some of their purchases, perhaps bought at a price that suggested they were stolen; or they may just have been negligent, or even have innocently ignored their provenance. One pick-pocket remarked 'Jews will buy anything off you but you must take their price'. His particular wares were the stolen handkerchiefs dangling from rich men's skirted coats. 'Kingsmen' were the brightest coloured and the most frequently stolen - everyone knew where they came from, even the police.56 But a bird catcher's wife, speaking of selling hare skins, says she always sells to Jews because she gets better prices and 'they buy readier' - in any case, if the sellers kept their wits about them they got fair prices.57 An 18th-century magistrate, who by his profession must have known the truth about what was going on, accused the Jews of the increase in petty crime, and suggested that the old-clothes dealers be licensed. He accused the hawkers 'under the pretence of hawking old clothes' of 'holding out temptation to servants to pilfer and steal vast quantity of bed linen, table linen and old clothes in private families',58 though an equally well-informed (but later) investigator states that Jews never remove anything from houses they visit. But one old-clothes man, Samuel Isaacs, could not resist taking two hats that were hanging in the hall of a house he was visiting.59 The magistrate goes on to say that the old-clothes men acquire property and become receivers, living on the sale of stolen goods. Receivers generally lived in Somers Town, Spitalfields, Philips Buildings and Rosemary Lane - all old-clothes hawkers' areas, and particularly the last two. A polemicist said that there were 25 receivers in Worship Street and 126 in Malborough Street.60 A list of goods found at a receiver's, belonging to 14 different people, included every type of article from 156 Persian goat skins to a case of surgical instruments!61 The distinctions between the dealers, receivers and the old-clothes men who often supplied them, do not always seem to be recognized. Dealers lived like the poor around them, although some, despite a very battered appearance, were in reality quite rich.62 Unlike the street sellers, their business was a mystery; 'they also deal in stolen goods and in altering base money' and are said to have had 'a capacity for silent evasion of the law, a faculty for secretive and illicit dealing'.63 Writing in 1821, Mainwaring says: 'the very soul and being of their traffic are secrecy, confidence and every wicked contrivance which the most subtle and refined craft can produce'.64 185</page><page sequence="16">Betty Naggar Trials at the Old Bailey between 1745 and 1900 show Jews involved in every type of crime from murder (extremely rare) down to petty thieving, and even, in one case, to smuggling.65 There are, of course, varying opinions as to the numbers of Jews, including hawkers and pedlars, who were involved in crime. A mid-18th century merchant (who was certainly prejudiced, as he subscribed to a petition against the Naturalization Bill) says, 'Jews consist of hawkers, pedlars and traffickers, particularly those dealing in stolen goods, and not infrequently in coining'. And d'Archenholz, on his tour of England, agrees with him. He says that the Jews who left Holland and Germany take refuge in England, 'where they live by roguery', and, even if they don't steal, help to conceal and dispose of the plunder.66 Southey also says the Jews' ostensible trade is in old clothes, but they deal, too, in stolen goods.67 There seems to be some basis for these suspicions, as there was a much unorthodox buying and selling among the early-18th-century dealers themselves and some well-known fences, such as Isaiah Judah, receiver of stolen goods,68 and Mrs Sherwood, who lived in Bowl Yard and was also a well-known receiver. 69 Or Moses, who came downstairs to let in two thieves at three o'clock in the morning, who offered him some clothes and Prussian blue, stolen from a ship, which he promptly bought for 4 guineas - and no questions asked.70 Levy Levy, who was sorting rags which he bought and sold for his own account, saw Elias Mordecai show two strangers into a back room, at their request. Then Mordecai bought three glasses (coach windows), a bridle, a cloth coat and a carpet (all stolen) for 2!fe guineas, and passed the lot on to his brother to sell.71 Asher Cohen tells how a man brought some silver into his shop saying 'Mr Cohen I must have ?30'. So Asher looked in the bag, went upstairs and brought the money. 'I had bought all sorts of goods from Mr Cropper, I am a pretty general dealer - they were only fit for melting down', he explains.72 Isaiah Israel, asked what his business is, replied: 'I am a dealer in old clothes', and when he was asked 'is it common in your business to buy and sell to each other?', answered 'very common'. When the court enquired how long some stolen goods were in his possession, he said, 'not above five minutes, I went with some of the things to Rag Fair and sold them there, and this coat and breeches I sold to a tailor in Houndsditch who deals in old clothes, and I sold other things to different people, but this coat and breeches and another coat I sold the same day, a few minutes after I bought them'.73 In what appears to have been an equally quick succession of buying and selling, Aaron Lazarus, who was 'in the watch line' and was indicted for 186</page><page sequence="17">Old-clothes men: 18th and 19th centuries receiving, said that he bought a watch from Smith for ?3.5s and sold it to Levi 'the Clobbered for ?3.6s who said he sold it to Hoppe for ?4.15s. Lazarus indignantly denied it was the same watch, as he said (and one believes him) that he would never have sold a watch for ?3.6s for which he could get ?4.15s. In the end, Hoppe sold the watch to Long, and it was stolen from him by two young unknown women who walked arm-in-arm with him down the street for a little way.74 It was easy for the men to recognize their watches as many were made especially for the pedlars and they put their name and licence number inside or outside the backplate. These were known as 'Jew watches'. Charles Cowen's defence, on trial for stealing, has a familiar ring: 'I am a Jew, I travel with a box, I had been at Barnet, I was very tired - so I got up behind the wagon, and when it started I fell down and this [the stolen box] fell down on top of me'.75 Keeping the Sabbath seems to have slowed down transactions. For example, garrulous Jacob Levi who admitted 'I have a great deal to say for myself, was crying old clothes, when a sea-faring man called him into a public house and offered him wool at 9d the lb. 'I offered him sixpence and gave him sevenpence', he continued, and quickly sold the lot for 8d the lb - but was unable to get paid because he was afraid to touch money on the Sabbath.76 Not all were however so strict. Another Jacob, answering a jocular friend who thought all Jews refused to touch money on that day, retorted, 'as to money, or a pretty girl, they may be touched at any time!'77 Occasionally the old-clothes men were involved in breaking and entering. But at least in the early days, during the 18th century, the occasional burglaries are almost comic in their ineptitude. As in the case of Levi Wolf, who said Joseph Elias, known as 'Joe the old clothes man' asked him to lend him and Solomon Gabriel a ladder - which he did. Elias and Gabriel took the ladder and leant it up against a wall to get into Benjamin Mendes da Costa's house. Gabriel stayed below; not a very useful accomplice as he was 'too stiff and clumsy' to climb it. So he helped shove and pull it up and over to the other side. When they found they were unable to get it back to Levi, he said that if he told his master he would be transported, so they gave him some money and advised him to buy goods and go peddling in the country.78 As time went on, burglaries became more common and on occasion quite rich hauls were made. Abraham Davis, a traveller who had been in the business for twelve years, had his box stolen from his room, while he was in the coffee house where he spent his evenings. It contained '68 silver watches value ?119.10s; 30 gold breast buckles set with garnets value ?6.10s; 36 gold breast shirt buckles value ?7.10s; 30 gold rings set with 187</page><page sequence="18">Betty Naggar precious stones value ?15.10s; 18 pairs silver shoe buckles set with pearls value ?19.10s; 18 gold rings set with garnets value ?5.10s; 1 leather pocket book value 2s; all in a wooden box value 2s.'79 Plate 9. Anonymous wood engraving, possibly late 19th century. 188</page><page sequence="19">Old-clothes men: 18th and 19th centuries Among smaller thefts there seems to have been a good deal of pick pocketing at the Bank, the Royal Exchange and Jews Walk, the proceeds in notes being disposed of in Holland.80 The young pedlar boys were also accused of altering base silver coins, which they bought up at a low price when they became too base to circulate, whitening them and sending them out again under the cover of selling oranges.81 Hyam Moses, who was selling oranges on Christmas Day, was indicted for passing a counterfeit shilling in change. The shilling was 'merely coloured, not plated', and he was sentenced goal for six months as a result.82 And Gadaliah Philips, old-clothes man, was selling peaches when he gave a counterfeit seven-shilling piece in change. He had one guinea, two halfpennies and two seven-shilling coins on him, all bad!83 What might, at first sight, appear to be an occasional small crime, such as the stealing of pewter pots from an inn, or from the top of basement railings, was in reality a criminal's speciality. For instance, John Harris not only had a pot in his pocket, but a basket containing six more belonging to different publicans; Chapman had a quart pot in one pocket and a pint in the other; and Henry Goldsmith stole four pewter pots from two different people. Thomas Deem went one better and stole three pots from three people.84 Even Isaac Israel, aged eighty-two, who said he was 'a poor old man as lame as a cricket', managed to steal a pewter pot.85 Not all dealers, however, were involved in crime. Some, indeed, were more selective when buying goods, and refused to be drawn into crime. Simon Isaacs was dismayed when a man brought someone to him who was looking for three stolen cushions: 'You know I never buy anything of the sort';86 and Michael Alexander, old-clothes man, when offered a stolen pewter pot, also said he did not want to buy such things.87 Moses Mannuel, who was offered two stolen spoons, said: 'I am an old-clothes man and I do not buy such';88 as for Michael Simons, he said he dealt in coach glasses, clothes and 'everything that is honest'.89 That this was so is attested by the 1894 Report issued by the Board of Trade, on Alien Immigration, which states that 'generally the evidence shows that the amount of crime traceable to this class of immigrants is probably less, rather than greater, than the normal proportion among the whole population of London' and 'confirms the view by people conversant with the habits of foreign Jews that they are on the whole a peaceful and law-abiding community.'90 By the 20th century, most of the old-clothes men no longer walked the streets, except for a few elderly ones. They were gradually replaced by cockneys, or rough, heavy-drinking Irish. Many of the Jewish hawkers had become owners of warehouses, which might consist of a simple shop 189</page><page sequence="20">Betty Naggar with a yard behind it, or quite a large building. Those Jews who still continued hawking, tended to carry bags for the second-hand clothing; the others, who only collected rags, had barrows or carts drawn by donkeys or horses.91 People who spent their childhood in the East End of London, remember the men with affection - they used to give the children cups and saucers, balloons, windmills or goldfish in exchange for old clothes. One man even had a hand-driven roundabout on his cart on which to give them rides.92 Their disappearance was a gradual process, due to various factors, but mainly to the invention of the sewing machine and the consequent arrival on the market of new, cheap, clothes from the sweat shops,93 which were preferred to second-hand ones. The old-clothes men continued to exist up to the last war, and even later in the remoter areas of the British Isles, still plying their trade in the old manner, an archaic reminder of their erstwhile usefulness. NOTES ABBREVIATIONS Booth = Charles Booth, Life and Labour of the People of London (1882-9). Colquhon = P. Colquohon, A Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis (London 1797). Hindley = C. Hindley, Cheap Jack (London 1876). Mainwaring = G. Mainwaring, Tracts. Brief Consideration on the Present State of the Police of the Metropolis (London 1821). Mayhew = H. Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor (London 1861). OBSP = Old Bailey Sessions Papers. Pyne = W.H. Pyne, The World in Miniature (London 1827). Rubens = Alfred Rubens, A Jewish Iconography (London 1954). Southey = R. Southey, Letters from England (London 1803-7). 1 M. D. George, London Life in the 18th Century (London 1975) 128; Mayhew 1,347-8. 2 D. Alexander, Retailing in England during the Industrial Revolution (London 1970) 71. 3 Mayhew III, 120. 4 Booth III, 35. 5 Hindley, 191. 6 Levi Nathan, A Short Account of the Life and Transactions (London 1776) 36. 7 Booth III, 36. Mayhew II, 120. 8 Frey, Letter in London Mission to the Jews. Institute of Oriental &amp; African Studies. 9 Thomas Wright, The Great Unwashed (London 1868) 276. 10 Rubens, 48. 11 Rubens, 45. 12 Rumney, Thesis, LSE, 1930. 13 V. D. Lipman, Three Centuries of Anglo-Jewish History (1961). 14 S. T. Coleridge, Table Talk (London 1884) 104. 15 Rubens, 45. 16 Pyne, 242. 17 Todd Endelman, The Jews of Georgian England (Philadelphia 1979) 181. 18 Booth III, 36. 19 Pyne, 242. 20 OBSP 1781-2,272. 21 I. Zangwill, Children of the Ghetto (London 1892) 2. 22 OBSP 1844-5,176. 23 Robert Hughes, The Fatal Shore (London 1987) 139. 24 Booth III, 29. 25 The East London Magazine (May 1891) 294. 190</page><page sequence="21">Old-clothes men: 18th and 19th centuries 26 Hindley, Cries of London (London 1881) 154. 27 Booth III, 29. 28 OBSP 1751-5, 95. 29 OBSP 1801, 622. 30 OBSP 1791-2, 60. 31 OBSP 1830-1,199. 32 OBSP 1809-10, 289. 33 Robert Atkins, A Compendius History of the Israelites (London 1810) 60. 34 Greater London Records Office MJ/SP 1701 January 1. 35 Greater London Records Office MJ/SP 1701 January 2. 36 Greater London Records Office AM/PW1743 61 &amp; MS/SP Temp. Anne/1. 37 E.M. Tomlinson, A History of the Minories (London 1907) 333^. 38 OBSP 1776-7,199. 39 Mayhew II, 26. 40 Leon Faucher, Etudes sur L 'Angleterre (Paris 1845) 33. 41 Mayhew II, 26. Booth III, 30. 42 Sir Richard Phillips, Modern London 'Fitzroy Square*. 43 Booth III, 30. 44 Mayhew II, 28. 45 B. Silliman, Journal of Travels in England, Holland and Scotland (London 1805) 270. 46 The East London Magazine (June September 1893) 'The Neighbourhood of Rag Fair, 1849', 294. 47 The Times, 15 Feb. 1832. 48 T. Endelman (see n. 17) 178. 49 Catalogue of Anglo-Jewish Art and History Exhibition, 1956, p.60, note 427. 50 C. Duschinsky, The Rabbinate of the Great Synagogue, London (Oxford 1921) 103, Letter dated 1776. 51 F. A. Wendeborn, View of England II (London 1791) 471. 52 OBSP 1898-9, 27. 53 OBSP 1867-8,192 ff. 54 Personal Comment, J. Smouha. 55 Colquhon.49,176. 56 Mayhew III, 382. 57 Mayhew II, 62 (Survey of Labour &amp; the Poor) The Morning Chronicle, The metropolitan Districts. 58 Colquhon, 172. 59 OBSP 1789-90, 378. 60 Mainwaring, 87. 61 OBSP 1853-4. 62 C. Booth, Conditions and Occupations of the People of Tower Hamlets (London 1886-7) 25. 63 Booth 1,181. 64 Mainwaring, 87. 65 OBSP 1827-8, 511. 66 D'Archenholtz, Picture of England I (London 1789) 180. 67 Southey, 3%. 68 J. Rumney, Thesis, LSE, 71. 69 OBSP 1802-3, 535. 70 OBSP 1786-7, 666. 71 OBSP 1791-2, 66. 72 OBSP 1791-2, 237. 73 OBSP 1784-5, 409. 74 OBSP 1827-8, 84. 75 OBSP 1781-2, 630. 76 OBSP 1786-7, 549. 77 OBSP 1762-4, 208. 78 OBSP 1751-5, 67. 79 OBSP 1778,17. 80 G. Parker, A View of Society and Manners (London 1781) 142. 81 Southey, 3%. 82 OBSP 1812-3,138-9. 83 OBSP 1805-6, 87. 84 Mayhew IV, 25-6; OBSP 1837-8, 294; 330. 684.1805-6, 332.1849-50, 614.1820-1, 91. 1806-7,123. 85 OBSP 1808, 267. 86 OBSP 1790-1, 575. 87 OBSP 1798-9, 429. 88 OBSP 1764-6,15. 89 OBSP 1776-7, 302. 90 British Parliamentary Papers, Board of Trade, Alien Immigration, 1894, LXV, III, 61. 91 Personal information, Taxi cab drivers, Nos 3, 5,9. 92 Personal information, Taxi cab driver, No. 10. 93 Personal comment, Mr Edgar Samuel. 191</page></plain_text>