18th century, 18th century clothing, authenticity, common people, Events, living history, peddler, petty sutler, Revolutionary War, sutler
It has been a long time since I participated in a traditional “reenacting” event, the kind with tents and pew and kettles and a TWD but here we go, borne back into the past to where it all began, more or less. I remain as uncomfortable as ever in the camp follower role, constantly questioning the likelihood of my being a follower, and the activities I would participate in. It’s a historical personality disorder, trying to figure out who one was, complicated by all the modern politics of gender roles, relationships, and unit rules.
Now that I’ve switched sides, Bridget Connor is no longer open to me. By nature I’m a townie, happiest in a mercantile endeavor if I’m not able to take on the role of an officer’s servant.
So what to do? Petty sutlery is much on my mind, for I have need of the money and a habit of making things. Lately, i’ve been band-boxing, so I was delighted to find the Huntington had digitized this Sandby drawing of a band-box seller, placing the trade firmly in the middle of the 18th century. Triangular boxes for cocked hats, circular boxes for bergeres, rectangular boxes for gloves and (neck)handkerchiefs, I presume.
I’ll have band boxes and a bonnet or two in addition to a custom order delivery, coral, glass, and garnet necklaces for girls and women, pincushions, handkerchiefs, possibly garters, and, if my hands hold up, boxes for hats and bergeres, all on a stick. Look for me between the 17th and the 7th, hindering or helping laundresses.
Nancy N said:
This is terrific! I always wondered what a band box was, since I first encountered it way pre internet, in Little Women! Why a “band” thought I? (Still don’t know, but thanks to your helpful Sandby link, I can see what Alcott meant about being kept in one a very bad claustrophobic existence!) good luck with the sutlery, and I wish I could come. Maybe next time,
“Band box” as a term refers to boxes for collars or bands, i.e. detachable collars/neckbands. I came across a late 19th century source that suggested that they first came into being as collar boxes, but I think the confusion was that by then they’d sort of forgotten about the ruffs (bands) of the 16th and 17th century, which were sometimes kept in specialized (band) boxes. (http://delawarepublic.org/post/history-storage-and-bandboxes) In any case, I was delighted to find that there was a relatively well known New England maker named Hannah Davis, who labeled her boxes. She made wooden boxes, which I would love to do, but currently lack the facilities.
Corinne Steigerwald said:
Thank you for this article and the image. I too, could never see myself as a camp follower.