The Ratcliff Highway, joining London’s Docklands to the City, was a wild place in the early 18th century. It was home to gin shops, shorebound sailors and Bengal tigers. The world’s biggest exotic pet shop, Jamrach’s Emporium, was located at number 164. The discerning collector could buy everything from lions for £100 to polar bears for just £25, and in the 1840s there was plenty of demand. Charles Darwin had just returned from his Galapagos-encompassing trip aboard HMS Beagle, the first touring circuses were travelling England, and advances in print technology meant zoological illustrations were the thing to have in one’s drawing room. It was the beginning of England’s great love of animals.
Christmas pudding has long been a staple of Londoners’ festive tables. Traditionally incorporating dried fruits, spices, sugar and alcohol this festal favourite is a representation of extensive British trade – and of the exotic bounty brought through London’s docks at the peak of Empire. Read the full post
London has been a centre for mercantile and illicit trade for over 2000 years and this month our Archaeological Archive tour will let you explore some of London’s unique imports behind-the-scenes. As always, here’s a little sneak preview of some of our more exotic objects that have travelled the globe. Read the full post
The Museum has a collection of over 4,000 17th century trade tokens, which Verity, one of our team of Project Assistants , has been working with to make available online. The first batch of over 1,700 tokens are now available to view as part of our collections online project here. Trade tokens were issued between 1648 and 1673 at a time when there was little low denomination coinage being issued by the crown. As a result traders and business proprietors began issuing tokens as an alternate coinage with equivalent denominations of usually of a farthing, half penny or penny. On rare occasions higher denominations were […]
In our latest blog from our team bringing our collections online, we hear again from Ellie and her continuing work with our printed ephemera collection… Our collection of business cards, invoices, brochures and receipts, provides a snapshot of London’s working life. The collection will be made available online for the first time next Spring, giving researchers the chance to access the objects from the comfort of their own homes. I imagine this resource will be well-used by family historians as well as academic researchers, who will be able to search the online information for specific names and trades. Each of […]