Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Watermen, 1807

I've speculated about potential differences between the clothing of coastal watermen, river bargemen, or fishermen versus the clothing of blue-water sailors before, so today's image is of watermen!

"Watermen", John Augustus Atkinson. London: 1807. British Museum.

Once again drawing from "A Picturesque Representation of the Costumes of Great Britain", this 1807 print depicts two watermen with a boat. One man wrangles with the boat's bow or balances it, while the other, hat off, looks like he's trying to drum up a customer, with a pair of oars leaning against the wall behind him.
The man pushing the boat into the water is dressed much like a sailor - a round hat with curled sides, short hair, a neck-cloth with the back worn outside his shirt, breeches, and tie shoes.

The man offering his boat to passers-by has a round hat, short-cropped hair, a big neck cloth, a waistcoat, breeches, and buckled shoes. His coat is full skirted, with a badge on his left arm showing him to be a London waterman. Turn back mariner's cuffs (worn closed) complete his sleeves.

Outside of the bargeman's badge these two men specifically identified as watermen aren't enormously different in their dress from sailors. However, Atkinson portrays other sailors in his series of engravings in trousers, often with long queued hair, so their breeches and short hair differentiate them in this series at least.

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