Mahogany Writing Table

4 ft. 54 ins. wide x 2 ft. u ins. deep ■ 2 ft. ins. high. Date 1784.

Act of Elizabeth, apprenticeship was obligatory on all who desired to follow a trade in England, and this law was not modified until the middle of the reign of George III., although the obligation still held with those mechanics who desired to enrol themselves with their trade guild.

When an apprentice had served his time he became " free of his master," and was admitted as a " journeyman," and could change his locality at will. If he followed a trade possessing a powerful guild, he was generally obliged, after a certain time, to make his " masterpiece," a specimen of work exhibiting his skill, which was examined by the officials of the guild; and if the verdict were satisfactory, he was adjudged to be " free of his company," and could commence business on his own account. He was now eligible to the freedom of his city, i.e. to become a burgess and to receive the franchise. If he became a " liveryman " of his company, he was entitled to wear the distinguishing livery of the guild, an honour much esteemed during the first half of the eighteenth century. In the records of the Clockmakers' Company, incorporated in 1631, are numerous instances of fines and even imprisonment inflicted on journeymen who had commenced business on their own account without first having obtained their "freedom."

MAHOGANY PEDESTAL TABLE. 4 ft. o ins. long X 2 ft. 8J ins. deep x 2 ft. 8 ins. high. Date 1784.

MAHOGANY PEDESTAL TABLE. 4 ft. o ins. long X 2 ft. 8J ins. deep x 2 ft. 8 ins. high. Date 1784.

MAHOGANY TABLE (enclosing Hhrary steps).

In the possession of Percival D. Griffiths, Esq. 3 ft. 2 ins. wide I ft. 10 ins. deep x 2 ft. S ins. high.

THE LIBRARY STEPS (of Fig. 369, shown open).

Robert Gillow appears to have combined the business of miscellaneous trader and licensed dealer in rum with that of a joiner. From the books of 1731 we can gather that he was little more than a jobbing carpenter. In 1746 are records of exporting ventures to the West Indies, furniture being traded for sugar, rum, and cotton. In 1737 he renders an account to " Allen Harrison, Esq." for " making rales in ye Gar ding',' and the value of his own time, for six days, is reckoned at gs.—is. 6d. per day. In 1745, we find from another entry that ci Bohe " tea costs 6s. per lb.; green tea, 7s. ; chocolate, 5s. ; and loaf sugar, iod. ; whereas beef costs only 2d. per lb. Interpreted in terms of the purchasing power of money at this period, as established by the rate of is. 6d. for a day's work of an artisan, it will be seen that tea, chocolate, and sugar must have been prohibitively expensive luxuries for the working-classes at this period.

At the present day, when the rule in " society shops " is to pay by the hour, " piece-work " is regarded as a species of outlawry. During the latter part of the eighteenth century the opposite of this custom prevailed. All workshops of note paid their workmen " by the book," i.e. The Cabinet-makers' London Book of Prices. Four editions of this book were issued, in 17SS, 1793, 1S05, and 1825. A " job " was given out to the workman without any stipulated price, and he made up his cost piecemeal from the book. Elaborate tables, with innumerable additions and exceptions, were given in the volume, in which every minute detail of construction was specified and priced. This method penalised not only the slow, but also the non-studious workman. The quickest maker finished his "job" in the shortest time, and one

0 0

Post a comment