Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Making a sailor a free mason, 1807

"Making a Sailor a Free Mason." London : Pub. by T. Tegg, [1807].
The Lewis Walpole Library.
Today's caricature from 1807 is another print of a sailor where I have multiple colorizations to look at, giving several perspectives on what assumptions early 19th c. colorists had about the colors of sailor clothing. This print is from The Caricature Magazine, or Hudibrastic Mirror, of which Volume I began publication in 1807.

Our sailor Benjamin Block wishes to become a Freemason, and is kneeling on a cushion surrounded by men in aprons with masonic symbols lying on the floor. He has suffered the indignity of having his shirt-tails pulled out and "cut and marked with divers mysteries signs, and tangents", and all that remains of his initiation is for him to be blindfolded and have some business with a red hot poker, which he objects to most strenuously. While there is a good deal more to be said about the context of the scene and this cartoon I will leave that for a future date when I am more familiar with my subject material.

In all three versions the sailor wears black shoes with big buckles, white stockings, and a blue jacket with buttons painted blue. His dress varies mainly in the color of his trousers and his handkerchief.
In this version Jack's trousers are white with no colorization, just the black lines of the etching. His neckstock is white, which makes it look like a ruffled-front shirt, and his shoe buckles are gold.
In this version Jack's trousers are striped white and blue, his handkerchief is red, and his shoe buckles are white metal.
In this version Jack's trousers are striped white and red, his handkerchief is black with some white shirt showing, and his shoe buckles are white metal. Also unique to this colorization is that Jack's straight, spiky hair is black instead of brown.

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