“Long and Strong two Yards Long Cotton Laces.”

By Paul Dickfoss, 3rd NY, Reg’t

With many women in the NWTA making lucet cord,2 an interesting and inexpensive impression one might do is that of a laces
seller. Other than the clothing of a poor person (male, female, young or old) only laces and a long stick, approximately two yards long, are required. This impression would provide interaction with the public and interpretation of clothing, cottage industry and street life.
Lace criers are frequently pictured in the Cries of London.”1, 3, 4, 5 Some of these criers show poor children described by Shesgreen as being orphans dressed in cast-off rags (Figure 1). Shesgreen goes on to say that selling laces was one of the least profitable trades. People sometimes pretended to sell laces to avoid being arrested for begging.3 One cry
(Figure 2) advertises the laces as selling for “a halfpenny a piece.”
One lace seller may provide only one type of lace or different laces for different uses as suggested in a rare description of lace sellers. This rhyme was published in a chapbook in 17754 along with a crude woodcut (Figure 3):

This fellow ever at your nod is
With Laces strong for stays and bodice,
And fine red Garters he reveals;
Then who would ever with to go,
As some young slattern Misses do,
With stockings down about their heels?
(Continued page 2)
With many slovens such the case is;
Then come and buy his long red Laces,
His Garters long, and Laces strong;
Hence decent made, and nice, and tidy,
A Lady may sit down beside ye,
And you your betters go among.

Lace sellers are not only found in London. “The Edinburgh Lace Women” by David A1Ian in 1784 (Figure 4), shows an older women selling laces from a long stick in a similar manner to the English sellers.6 In the Cries of Paris (Figure 5), 1737 to 1746 a young man is pictured selling boot-laces which are obviously much thicker than those sold by the other criers mentioned.7 These boot laces are probably leather thongs. Another French “Shoe lace” seller is included in a late 18th century edition of the Cries of Paris, published ca. 1775.8
At any event, the most memorable thing the public leaves with are the sights and sounds. A person selling laces would not make much money, not even enough to pay for ones time, but it is the interpretation and creating the sights and sounds of the late 18th century we attempt to accomplish. The American War for Independence was cast upon a civilian backdrop.

1) Kirkin, I, published before 1757 probably later than 1700, Cries of London, Printed in London at St. Paul’s Church Yard. Held at the Lilly Library, call #, GT 3450 .C92 835 K54.
2) Whiteside, Jane M., 1997, “Making Lucetted Cord” in the NWTA Courier, August, Volume XXI, p. 8.
3) Shesgreen, Sean, 1990, The Criers and Hawkers of London, Engravings and Drawings of Marcellus Laroon; Stanford University Press, 264 p. See pages 170 and 171.
4) Newbery, F., 1775, The Criers of London as They are daily exhibited in the Streets, in The Cries of of London / The Cries of New York, by Linda F. Lapides, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York, 1977. See pages 82 and 83 of The Cries of London.
5) Yale Center for British Art, 1985, The Art of Paul Sandby; Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut, 111 p. See page 46 for a description of this sketch made in 1759 but no picture provided.
6) De Marry, Diana, 1986, Working Dress: A History of Occupational Clothing; Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc., New York. See page 54. Although it was De Marry’s book that the picture for this article came from, the same picture is provided at http://www47.pair. com/lindo/Images/lacewoman. JPG
7) Éstudes prises dans le Bas Peuple on Les Cris de Paris, Première Suitte 1737 (-cinquième suitte, 1746) avec Priv. du Roi. Se vendent à Paris, chez Fessard, Rue St. Denis au Grand St. Louis chez un Miroiter pres le Sep: [Bouchardou, inv.; Comte de Caylus, sc. 1737-1746] 32.9 cm. 42 of these prints are widely available at http://costumes. org//history/l8thcent/lacroix/ See
figure 220.
8) Cris de Paris dessinès d’après Nature, par M. Poisson. Dédiés à Monsieur Bignon, Bibliothécaire du Roi, Seigneur Écausville, Joquanville, Le Rozel. Barnevelle et autres Lieux. À Paris chez l’ Auteur Cloître St. HonorC Maison de la Maitrise au Fond du Jardin. [1775?] 26 cm. h., in Beall, Karen, 1979, Cries & Itineranl Trades A Bibliolgraphy; Detroit Gale Research, Incorporated, Held at the Newbery Library. See pages 238 to 240.