No one to whom London is familiar can be unfamiliar with the "Stores," those well-known establishments in Westminster, in the Haymarket, in Regent Street, and in the City, where no small part of the general retail trade of London is daily transacted.
EVERY one is convinced of the importance of the Shops in any summary of the attractions of London. Their interest to visitors cannot be gainsaid or overlooked. The omission of the shops from the category of London's sights would be fatal to any correct impression of London as a whole. The shops comprise one of its most attractive features; the most interesting and attractive, indeed, of any, in the view of no inconsiderable proportion of those who daily flock into London.
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Originally started on co-operative principles, some thirty years ago, by a few economical officials of the Post Office, the "Stores" have long ceased to have any real connection with the co-operative system, as understood by the Rochdale Pioneers' and Mr. George Jacob Holyoake and his friends; and are neither more nor less than large, general trading establishments, formed on "limited liability" lines, governed by a directorate and responsible heads of departments, but offering facilities of buying, not merely to duly-qualified shareholders, but to all who, by the purchase or a half-crown ticket (not a very diflicult operation) constitute themselves members of such stores.
Theoretically, none but officers and retired officers of the navy and army, and civil servants, and ex-civil servants, their widows, sons, daughters, and relatives, are supposed to deal at the "Service Stores," originally started for iheir benefit; but every one knows that, in practice, it is not impossible to extend such qualification, so as to include an almost indefinite number of the friends of "relatives," which elasticity of qualification brings these establishrnents within the extensive limits of open trading.
London, however, is so vast in itself; its ordinary residents and periodical visitors number so many millions of people, and the tendency of to-day is so entirely in the direction of amalgamating businesses, so as to bring them together under one roof and under one responsible management, that, after all, the Stores are but following the fashion of the times, and if they do attract no inconsiderable share of public patronage, there is still amply sufficient left to satisfy the just expectations of such large firms as Shoolbred,
In the initial stages of their history the Service Stores met with strenuous opposition from the West End London traders; mainly on the ground that those employed by the State had no right to engage in business outside their ordinary daily occupation. The State, it was insisted, paid its servants sufficiently well; and it was unfair that they should be allowed to compete with those whose profits are taxed to help pay (among other national liabilities) the salaries of Government officials.
Time has softened the asperities of this one-time famous feud, on the settlement of which the aid of Parliament was once invoked, but to no purpose. The Stores are no longer a novelty, and ordinary retail traders have found a way if not of lessening the serious competition to which they are subjected in all events of meeting it by greater enterprise on their part and by the lowering of prices which their former prejudicial system of long credits to customers rendered impossible.
Into the merits of the case on either side it would be uninteresting now to enter. One of Lord Chesterfield's "Axioms in Trade" is "that all monopolies are destructive of trade." But neither of the Stores can, or do, claim anything approaching a monopoly, even in respect of the custom of those for whose especial benefit they were originally founded.
For certain articles of every-day domestic consumption as for example, groceries and wines and spirits the Service Stores may unquestionably command a very large sale, and not restricted solely, as we have hinted, to their own members. But in materials and articles of Dress for ladies and gentlemen both, furniture, upholstery and other departments of trade that might be enumerated, the ordinary retail establishments of London - such as
The Stores enter into no competition with such businesses as
Still, it must be admitted that the Stores have a very powerful fascination for no inconsiderable section of those daily engaged in Shopping. So far as our experience warrants an opinion, we admit their usefulness for the purchase of articles of daily consumption in the household. We go farther, and say, that they have wrought an enormous and beneficial reform in London in lessening the immense evil of long credits and high prices, whereby the purchaser over the counter for cash was too frequently made to bear the trader's losses incurred by doubtful debts or defaulting debtors.
But that they are of unmixed benefit to busy every-day purchasers of all things needful, we take leave to question. Than the Stores of the Civil Service Supply Association in Queen Victoria Street, City, no more perplexing labyrinth of sufficiently irritating to nerves and temper, and wasteful of time, could be entered, at least by a busy man. To save, perhaps a couple of shillings, and waste an hour in trying to effect it, is very much as if one should save sixpence on a purchase and expend a shilling in carrying it home. Yet these Stores are perhaps the most popular, in wider acceptation of the word, of any.
The curious stranger will find little difficulty in entering any of the "Stores." whether he be a member or not, if he choose to be at the pains of finding the way. The Civil Service Co-operative Society 38, Haymarket, and the Junior Army and Navy Stores York House, Regent Street, openly invite travellers from the Colonies and America to avail themselves of such shopping facilities as each affords. A ticket (price 2s. 6d.) from the Secretary of either will confer the privilege of membership, on proper introduction from an elected member, the condition exacted being that all purchases are negotiated for cash. No departure from this rule is allowed at any of the Stores in London. In return, fair discounts and reductions are conceded to purchasers, duly set forth in full in the bulky official Price-lists of each association, which can be had on application. The several departments, arranged under one roof, exhibit articles multifarious, adapted to almost every requirement, personal or domestic, one might name; selected with discrimination and taste, and with due regard to the passing fashions of the day. The Army and Navy Stores in Victoria Street, Westminster, is truly one of the sights of London on a busy day in the Season; and those of the Junior Army and Navy, at York House, Regent Street, are no mean rivals of the older establishment steadily working to the fore and increasing the numbers of its members. It is on the whole the most enterprising of the Stores.
Messrs. Spiers & Pond, Limited have recently opened to the public a large retail establishment on the plan of the Stores in the rear of Ludgate Hill Railway Station. It includes a fine range of separate shops for the sale of meat, poultry, fish, fruit; a chemist's establishment; and overlooking all a large building for the retailing of everything ordinarily to be purchased at the Service Stores. Access to this establishment is free from the primary charge usually exacted for membership elsewhere; and it is unquestionable that the Provisions Stores are found a great convenience to dwellers in the southern suburbs. The food to be found there is generally much more varied and fresher, and withal daily retailed at more moderate prices than commonly rule elsewhere.
To imagine London of To-Day a huge city of unsightly, lofty, smoke-begrimed, "sky-scraping" stores, destitute of any window displays of tasteful, novel, and pretty things; of ladies' fashions in costumes, of silks, satins, laces, hats, furs, and the like; goldsmiths' and silversmiths' wares and jewellery; pottery, glass, china, furniture, bric-a-brac; pictures, engravings, books, and the rest; to imagine this would be to imagine a city the most unlovely and depressing in the world. Deprive London of its Bond Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly, Oxford Street, Knightsbridge, Buckingham Palace Road, Kensington High Street, Westbourne Grove, and of the manifold attractions of their Shops, and what have we left in London to bid us tarry for long in its streets?
In the eyes of the majority of women, ihe shops of the West End provide the chief attractions of town. Granted the full liberty of London, with the essential provision of a handsome cheque or well-filled purse, and no amusement the town affords offers half the fascination for women that shopping does. Even the minor pleasure of merely looking in the shop windows is by no means lightly esteemed, as an occasional relief from the not uncommon monotony of domestic affairs. Among ladies visiting town, from the provinces or abroad, from the colonies, America, or elsewhere, it is beyond question that "the Round of the Shops " is, oftener than not, set down as one of the most important engagements of a visit to town.
Time was when ladies went shopping in London elsewhere than in the present fashionable and highly favoured districts of the West End.
St. Paul's Churchyard,
Ludgate Hill has long since lost the shawl shops for which it was famous in the fifties. No one ever sees shawls now such as were then worn. Ludgate Hill, however, still commends itself to the attention of mothers on the look out for bargains in boys' clothing, or of housewives interested in carpet-buying.
Fleet Street may be said to be given over to the business of advertising shops, rather than of trafficking in such wares as shops display. The Strand, from Fleet Street to Charing Cross, may be styled a man's thoroughfare, save, perhaps, as to its westernmost end. Charing Cross itself, and its extensions of Cockspur Street on the south side and Pall Mall on the north, show no better examples of London shops for ladies and gentlemen alike, than the well-known silver- smith's next the National Gallery, the well-known furnishing establishment in Pall Mall East, and the equally well-known watchmaker's at the corner of Spring Gardens - each firm of the highest repute in its way.
A very convenient starting-point for shopping is Charing Cross, the great hotel centre of London, for you plunge forthwith in medias res, as the Latinists say: you are in the time-honoured central circle of West-End London, whence the four-miles cab system radiates. Few Londoners themselves know whereabouts the four-miles radius ends; but no matter, for "cabby" himself always knows, and exacts from a fare travelling outside its limits the uttermost shilling allowed by the regulations. You can hardly do better than reach Regent Street by way of Trafalgar Square for hereabouts, particularly on the north side, named Pall Mall East, are shops of excellent repute: Hampton's to wit. One of the delights of shopping is to discover that which is new. Few women leave home or hotel with any pre-arranged plan. They have no definite idea, as a rule, of what they wish to buy. Purse in hand, and properly filled, they only know that they must buy something; and the newer, the better. Of course, I am not now referring to the purchase of necessary articles of dress, or to periodical visits made to dressmakers and milliners. The puzzle to most men of studious or inquiring mind is, how women "out shopping" contrive to make up their mind at all. They rarely say to themselves, "I am going to one London shop, and do not propose to be diverted a yard from it"; still more rarely do they make for one department of that shop and confine their attention to it. Half of the pleasures of shopping would be gone, in making a rigorous rule to go direct to one department of an establishment, and to close the eyes to the attractions of all the others. It would be bad times for the dressmakers and milliners if women did their shopping like men. Even if women buy nothing, they always like to be tempted to buy. To "price" things, and to see the fashions, is a legitimate part of the business of shopping. Shopkeepers are far too wise to attempt to stay any inclinations in these directions, albeit "pricing things" tends at times to irritability and vexation of spirit on the part of shopmen.
For more than fifty years Bond Street has held the reputation of being the most fashionable Shopping Resort in London, and it still maintains that distinction.
Regent Street may advance a claim to the honour; but no Londoner who knows his London intimately will dispute that Bond Street enjoys a larger share of the patronage of the aristocracy and wealthier residents of the Court quarter than any other street. Regent Street is the Mecca of provincial and suburban pilgrims and foreign visitors, and none will gainsay its prestige as the sightliest and best-planned London street - the show street, indeed, of London - whose brilliant array of well-kept shops, with their well-displayed wares of every kind and description, have long ago made it also one of the best appreciated Sights of London, at all events in the eyes of visitors. Some of its shops are without counterpart elsewhere, as, for example, its long-famed warehouse of Jay's, Limited; its "Tartan Warehouse"' of Scott Adie; its "Irish Warehouse" of Messrs. Inglis and Tinckler; its "International Fur Store"; its "Liliputian Warehouse" of Messrs. Swears and Wells; its well-known shop for the sale of wares, Japanese and Eastern goods, and also home-manufactured fabrics; its head establishment of Mr. Goodyer, long time a professor in the art of charming the eye with brilliant window display of draperies, silks, satins, and damasks in loveliest array of colours; the Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Company's headquarters establishment, with its exhibition of gold and silver work; the spacious Belfast Linen Warehouse of Robinson and Cleaver; Fuller's American confectionery head depot and so on. One shop alone in Regent Street makes no display of what it has at command within, and that bears the name of Tiffany, of New York. In this respect it may be likened to the plainly dressed Ambassador from America standing in the midst of a splendidly uniformed and much decorated Court. Possibly its very lack of display proves its best advertisement. There is only one other famous shop in London less ornate even than Tiffany's, and that is Garrard's, whose establishment in the Haymarket gives no token to the passer-by of the wealth of gold and silver wares to be found within.
Regent Street is the Mecca, we repeat, of provincial and suburban pilgrims, and, needless to add, of foreign visitors. There are other shrines, however, well enough known to ladies who live in London: to wit,
Oxford Street east and west of Oxford Circus, and leading north to Langham Place, and as to its upper parts, Tottenham Court Road - though the distinction and the difference is freely to be acknowledged - have attractions superior to those of many other parts of London. Regent Street still holds pre-eminence, notwithstanding the severe and increasing competition of the suburbs. Could the whole of London's suburbs bring together any finer show of sparkling jewels than may be found in one Regent Street firm's windows? Could Paris itself even surpass the delicate colour harmonies which are here to be seen, in cashmeres, silks, and brocades, and softest of fabrics? Where else is there greater variety to charm the eye, whether it be in gowns, or wraps, or furs, or brocades, or finest linens, or painted fans, or leather goods, or silver ornaments, or faïence, (earthenware decorated with opaque colored glazes) or bronzes, or ceramics of every kind, not to forget mention of the charming display always made at Fuller's confectionery store is one of the prettiest and daintiest window displays in London, and apparently changing every day. No other confectioners come anywhere near them in the art of window-dressing, and surely this firm leads in the attractiveness and excellence of its sweetmeats.
It is curious that Bond Street, so much less convenient for foot-passengers, and so much less spacious for carriages and cabs, should have maintained its place for much more than half a century as London's leading Shopping Resort. There is little doubt that its past history had somewhat to do with the fact. Originally a street of private residences of the aristocracy, and later the locality of lodging-houses and hotels of the highest class, it never lost favour with the well-to-do of St. James's and Mayfair. When, in due course of time, its lodging-houses - many eminent men and women lodged in them - became shops, they were eagerly rented by the more famous of the goldsmiths and jewellers from the City side of London, of whom two remain to this day. They, in their turn, attracted the high-class dealers in bric-a-brac, china, old furniture, and pictures, and of tailors, hatters, hosiers, and, later, Court milliners and dressmakers; and so Bond Street became what it now is - the leading street of shops in London, and certainly one of the streets of Europe.
WERE it not for the presence of Ladies and the contributory brightness and elegance of Ladies' Dress at the various functions, entertainments, shows, and festivities of the London Season, it would, after all, make no great show in the calendar. What, for example, is the chief feature of the Royal Drawing-room other than the personal presence of Royalty? The beauty of the Dress and other personal charms of those presenting, and to be presented, at Court. What is the most imposing characteristic of the Grand Opera-house in the months of May and June? What else but the splendour of the audience, of which ladies of rank, fashion, and beauty, in the most charming of full-dress, comprise the most attractive part. What is the most pleasing feature of the Lawn at Ascot? Unquestionably the dresses of the ladies. What is it that contributes so materially to the brilliance and successful arrangements of the Ball, the Dance, the Dinner-party, the Garden-fete, the Reception, and the rest? Nothing so much as the elegance and taste shown in the gowns and costumes of the ladies present. What is it that has made Henley Regatta so world-famous as a river-scene? Little else but the famous beauty-show and the charms of colour displayed by the many graceful women who frequent it. Finally, what is there in connection with the promenade bordering the "Drive'" and the "Row" in Hyde Park, other than those admirable effects produced by the landscape-gardeners' art in the planting and arranging of trees, shrubs, and flower-beds contiguous thereto, which has given "The Park" a name and a fame for interest and beauty throughout Europe: indeed, throughout the whole world? What but the marvellous display of women's Dress in the London Season, especially in the week after Ascot, which attracts more eager sightseers among the gentler sex than any other sight which London has to offer?
An American lady assures me that the finest display of Dress she has ever anywhere seen - which is conceding a great deal on an American lady's part - is that exhibited in Hyde Park, at what is flippantly known as "Prayer-book parade," on the Sunday following Ascot. My American friend would undoubtedly be entitled in her own land to the prefatory distinction "traveled," an adjective which every good dictionary of the English language admits as proper when spelt with two "ll's," but which is rarely made use of by us thus - "a traveled Englishwoman." However, there is not much in this point, except as showing our own aptness at criticism. The point of real interest is that the show of Ladies' Dress in London in the full of London's Season meets with the enthusiastic approval of an American lady, who herself, by the way', exhibits a very pretty taste and style, studied (as I happen to know) in the leading dressmakers' salons of Paris and London, whence originate all the most charming examples in woman's dress to be seen in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and other noteworthy American cities, at balls, receptions, dinner-parties, and so on.
"There is no mistaking American tourists," a London daily tells us. "There are more of women than men, and nearly all the former are dressed alike. More than half of them wear glasses- frameless pince-nez. Seven-tenths of them affect a felt hat with the top knocked in, and a speckled handkerchief twisted around it. Four-fifths wear tailor-made and well-cut tweed costumes, the coat basqueless and clipping the waist like an ardent lover's arm. All display the pendant reticule, which no American lady who travels is ever seen without when walking." No one will say that, in these particulars, American ladies show less taste than English ladies. The "pendant reticule" has not yet "caught on" in England to any great extent; but probably it will, and then Oxford Street and Regent Street and Bond Street will probably improve upon it.
As for the "tailor-made and well-cut tweed costumes, "these surely discover the world-wide fame of our own Redfern, of Conduit Street, London, W. - who first gave to the world the most permanent and pleasing fashion of our time - the tailor-made dress for women. We guess none can beat it for style, fitness, and finish. Ask men, who are ever the keenest and most exacting critics of women's dress, which is the costume most befitting and attractive in their eye? The "tailor-made" they will all tell you, as being the lady's "walking-habit" nearest allied to the lady's "riding-habit," in which all women appear to so much advantage when the habit is well cut and really well made. Redfern's salons in Conduit Street display, season by season. Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, the most original and charming examples of latest fashion in Dress for ladies, adapted to their every requirement - Dress for evening wear, for balls, dinner-parties, the theatres, for riding, driving, walking, travelling, sporting purposes, for yachting, etc., and, needless to add, for all the functions of the Court. No one will dispute Redfern's preeminent position in London as arbiters of the mode for women.
Dressmakers "by appointment" - such is the official and highly esteemed designation and privilege - to half the Royalties of Europe, among whom are, of course, included the several Royalties of this kingdom united; the Firm would fail in the first essential of such a position, if it were not "arbiters of the mode" in respect of Ladies' Dress. It must needs originate, design, and promulgate to the world of fashion the most stylish and attractive mode: or what becomes of its leading position? Princesses are never content to follow in such matters; they lead. Other ladies follow, and generally consider themselves fortunate if they are not left too far behind. To make a long story short, if a lady wishes to see what London has to show in the way of latest styles in Dress, she should stroll through the rooms of Redfern.
There is one shop in Regent Street, on the west side, No. 115 - 115A, Scott Adie's to wit, which is one of the landmarks of the Town. It is the Scotch Warehouse of London entitled to the distinguished prefix "Royal" - a place famed throughout Europe for its Scotch goods - Tartans, Shawls, Scotch Rugs, Plaids, Hand-knit hose, Highland Jewellery, and the like. Every article of dress of genuine Scotch manufacture may be bought here, alike for ladies and for gentlemen. It is within the truth to say, that for its specialities in the departments named, the shop of Scott Adie has no counterpart in London; a genuinely high-class establishment of long and well-earned repute for the sale of Scotch goods for dress purposes.
The sign of the Shamrock is a pleasing and attractive sign. It stands as the trade-mark of Messrs. Inglis and Tinckler ("the Irish Warehouse "), No. 147, Regent Street. For many years their Firm has been famed for its Irish Laces, Irish Linens, and Irish Poplins, and particularly for its "Hand-loom Table-cloths and Napkins" of Irish manufacture. A capital place this for buying any of these charming, characteristic, and high-class productions of Ireland; not to omit mention of such things as fine Irish cambric pocket-handkerchiefs, hem-stitched and initialed, which always appeal to the fine taste of American ladies and gentlemen. Inglis and Tinckler show a large assortment of new and novel designs in damasks and laces, as inexpensive as they are good.
It is common knowledge that the International Fur Stores (163 - 165, Regent Street) is a flourishing branch of Jay's, and truly Jay's is a London firm of repute. We happened upon an advertisement of Jay's the other day, published week after week in a volume of the Illustrated London News for 1848, notifying all and sundry, the ladies of London, what splendid store of new style silks, satins, shawls, mantles, bonnets, and fashionable costumes (only women's dresses were not called costumes in those days) were there and then on exhibition at the (even then) well-known establishment standing at the corner of Regent Street, Oxford Circus.
The great inconvenience of having to resort to separate establishments, for the articles necessary on occasion of persons requiring mourning, induced the proprietors of this establishment to devote the whole of their large resources to supply a desideratum; that had so long been needed, and in order to secure attention, the nature of the decorations were made to correspond with the business transacted. Here may be had every variety of mourning attire, from that which heart-felt affection dictates for the loss of a fond parent, or dearly-beloved relative, to the slight token which friendship or fashion demands, in the newest and most approved material and style, and at a few hours notice; and when we consider that on occasions of Court mourning, or the occurrence of death in any of the higher circles, how great it is the number of persons, who therby require complimentary mourning, the convenience and utility of this admirably-conducted establishment, under the immediate patronage of Her Majesty, the elegance of it saloons, for the exhibition of Millinery, forming the great attraction of the season, the excellent quality of the articles sold, and the polite attention of the proprietors, at once accounts for its great importance and complete success.Illustrated London News, 1848
On the same side of Regent Street, about midway between the two "circuses," so named - Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus - are the International Fur Stores, the leading house in London for furs for women and furs for men. There is no single variety, used for modern purposes of dress, of which an example may not be found here; an example of the best, alike in the quality of the natural skin, the dressing, the dye, the make-up, and the fashion - black Russian sable, ordinary sable, sea otter, silver fox, the beautiful white Arctic fox, seal, ermine, chinchilla, mink - whatsoever fur you may admire most. These are fashioned into mufts, ties, boas, capes, cloaks, and trimmings for women, and into coats for men: coats for travelling or for cold, wintry nights, coming from the club or the House of Commons (every observant man of the town knows the fur-lined House of Commons coat) and women's cloaks, very charming in colour, fit, fashion, and trimming for chilly nights, coming from threatres, dinner-parties, balls, and the like. The conclusion of the whole matter is this, that the reputation of the International Fur Stores is second to none in London for the variety, quality, and fashion of the wares there on show and there dealt in.
On the east side of Regent Street (Nos. 174 and 198) almost fronting Conduit Street, are two of the shops of Mr. F. B. Goodyer, whose excellent taste in window display of coloured fabrics for furnishing and decorative purposes has long made these among the more attractive shops of this thoroughfare, for what might very well be known as "Goodyer wares." The two shops combined have as varied a collection of pretty, artistic, and original designs in cretonnes, muslins, printed velvets, tapestries, silks, etc., adapted to all kinds of interior decoration; and also of quaint and original furniture, chairs, screens, tables, overmantels, book-cases, bedsteads (in wood- work), and the like, as Regent Street has to show.
In making reference here to Mr. Goodyer's places, we commend to the attention of any who may be interested in the gold, gem, enamel, and silver jewellery of British India, the interesting and beautiful collection of such work which he exhibits, and which, we believe, are unique of their kind. Any lady who might wish to purchase for herself a pretty and really artistic necklet entirely out of the common, or any gentleman who might be desirous to make a gift to a lady of such an acceptable article of jewellery, could hardly do better than to see what the Goodyer shops have that way to show. I doubt if any London house has a more interesting collection of pretty things from the Indian Presidencies: jewellery, for example, from Delhi, Lucknow, Jeypore, and Agra - some of it antique and rare, the most of it admirably selected, and all of it charming in design and colour, particularly in the disposition and setting of the gems; decorative fabrics, embroideries, and curtains from Umritza and Kajputana; Indian carpets and rugs from Beejapur, Jubblepore, and Agra; decorative pottery from Mooltan, Azimghur, and Bombay; decorative tiles from the Punjaub; Bombay hand-carved blackwood furniture; inlaid metal works from Beder, Moradabad, and Poona; to say nothing of a miscellaneous collection of native arms, shields, musical instruments, idols, toys, etc., etc.
The whole of these things are well deserving the attention of American and other visitors unfamiliar with the exquisite work in enamels, metals, gold, and silver that British India produces. Some of the jewellery and other articles on exhibition at Goodyer's are the reverse of expensive, while, apart from their intrinsic value, they possess the merit of being curious and uncommon.
Examples of what latter-day enterprise has accomplished, in changing the long-established business traditions of a great and notable trade, may be found in the goldsmiths' and silversmiths' shops. Those establishments are among the most noteworthy and attractive in the always attractive Broad Street. The goldsmith's is one of the oldest trades extant, as it is also one of the least amenable to change; in that respect influenced not a little, doubtless, by the high position it commands, as one of the recognised interpreters of the Fine Arts. Workers in the precious metals have ever ranked among the most skilled and talented handicraftsmen of every age and country. That fact has contributed in some measure to make their business least disposed to new enterprises. The goldsmith's might with some truth be styled the most conservative of all the trades. To break away from its old business methods, of appealing chiefly to the patronage of the wealthy rather than to the popular support, and to modernise those methods, so to say, required not less courage than enterprise.
At No. 172, New Bond Street, is the so-named "Quest Gallery"- the latest development of the goldsmiths' and jewellers' trade at the west-end of London. It is, in fact, the branch retail establishment of that old and well-known City house, Johnson, Walker, and Tolhurst, of 80, Moorgate Street, E.C., manufacturing goldsmiths, silversmiths, and jewellers. In the "Quest Gallery " itself you may perchance pick up a good piece of old gold or siher ware; a good bronze or two; some choice and interesting specimens of intaglios and cameos; examples of Old French watches, of old miniatures, and ivories; of work in the precious metals, and the like. In the shop itself you will find displayed many charming illustrations of modern fashionable jewellery, among not the least noteworthy of which is the sapphire set work for which this Firm has gained considerable reputation. We doubt if there be another house in London which offers, in so large choice and variety, Jewellery of which sapphires form the most distinctive and attractive feature. For gems of every kind, set and unset, 172, New Bond Street, is an address well worth noting.
A Regent Street firm, whose claim to notice in these pages every one who knows London will allow, is that of Wilson's, No. 188 in that thoroughfare (lately transferred from Bond Street), famed for its linens. For tasteful table purposes, the damasks, wrought in divers patterns from original designs of some of our foremost English artists, which Wilson's have on sale are not excelled by any house in London. Ladies who might wish to inspect some of the most beautiful and artistic productions in this class of work, for tablecloths, table-napkins, teacloths, etc., etc., would do well to see what this firm has to show. And not only in that line do Wilson's especially excel, but in others collateral to it; as in daintily embroidered handkerchiefs, curtains in lace, applique, etc., fashioned from their own exclusive designs, needless to add, in the best possible taste. Wilson's is one of Regent Street's most interesting shops. Considering the excellent quality and admittedly high standard of its productions, the prices asked for them are moderate. At all events, it is cheaper in the long run to go to a house whose wares are of this character, rather than to another which makes no claim to special merit on the artistic side of its productions. Well-known artists like Walter Crane, Day, and Anning Bell are not at the beck and call of every one. They look to have their designs skilfully reproduced, and that result is obtained in Wilson's linen factory. It may be mentioned that the firm has now an American branch house at 100, William Street, New York. Its sole London address, we repeat, is now No. 188, Regent Street.
It would appear from report (and general observation, too) that Englishwomen are giving more attention than formerly to what a lady journalist slangily names, their "foot-gear." It used to be said of our countrywomen, that they have the prettiest faces and ugliest feet of any women. But this statement is in part untrue. That they have the prettiest faces in the world, the world very well knows. As to their feet, these are generally considered by competent critics to be not less attractive than their faces, except that, in times past, English ladies would insist on being shod in what are known among men as "roomy" boots. The fashion of the shoe for walking purposes brought about a change in that respect. An ill-fitting ugly shoe no lady dare wear. Well-fitting, filmy silken hose, at 35s. a pair, required a neat and pretty shoe to set the stocking off. Ladies gave greater heed to the fit and appearance of boots and shoes for walking purposes, and there are no women in the world who now wear neater and daintier or better made boots and shoes than the English.
Such a firm as Hook, Knowles & Co., of 66 and 65, New Bond Street, has no superiors and few equals as makers of ladies' boots and shoes, no matter in what city a lady may make search - in Paris, Vienna, Brussels, New York, wheresoever she will. The notion that only Paris can produce pretty boots is long since exploded. American ladies of fashion quite as often have their boots made in London as their gowns. Hook, Knowles & Co. have many American customers, as well among the elite of those married and resident in London, as of those who yearly visit London. The firm holds a special warrant of appointment as boot and shoe manufacturers to the Princess of Wales. Mr. Joseph Box, of 187, Regent Street, also has a long-established reputation (his business dates from 1808) as a courtbootmaker, well-known to the fashionable world of London. The lady who signs herself "Ardern Holt" in the Queen (the ladies' newspaper of London) tells me that Mr. Box is not only a master of his craft, but an artist of exceptional ability, in the designing- and making of boots and shoes for women.
One of the best authorities on the two following subjects sends us these notes: A very admirable dressmaker is Madame Marie Rice, 38, Alfred Place West, opposite South Kensington Railway Station, not costly, but quite up to date, and capable of furnishing a bride with an outfit such as she would be proud to wear, as also her attendant bridesmaids, for a very moderate sum. An evening dress carries a certain amount of style with it, and a dowdy one is intolerable; but in these hard times, with an Income Tax of a shilling in the pound, we are some of us appalled at the prices we are asked to pay, and hail with delight a modiste like the present one, who will turn you out as you should be turned out, leaving you at least a few bawbees in your purse.
No lady is considered well-dressed nowadays without being bien coiffee. There is an art in the arrangement of hair compassed only by first-class hairdressers, such as Messrs. Dubosch & Gillingham 285, Regent Street, who understand the scalp of the head and the structure of the hair; so that, even when restoring the colour of the tresses and bringing them quite up to date, they are not likely to do anything injurious to either. They study the form of the head, and in constructing those additions which so many women almost inevitably have to fall back upon, they would not spoil the shape by any redundancy that would interfere with the outline. Their "transformations," which mean an entire head-dress slipped over the natural hair, greatly favoured by those who mix a great deal in the world, and who are often pressed for time, cannot be surpassed. The Romney style is the keynote of fashion just now; and Messrs. Dubosch and Gillingham are past masters in the art of producing this.
It may be that this book will be seen and consulted by others than visitors to London; by some, for example, who contemplate making a more or less lengthened stay here, or possibly of presently permanently residing in London or in its suburbs. If the question of Furnishing a house, flat, or rooms should enter into their calculations, there can be no harm - on the contrary it may prove of some service - to call attention to the facilities which Messrs. Norman and Stacey of Tottenham Court Road, offer in this generally important, and sometimes the reverse of easy to be accomplished, business. Their firm has gained considerable reputation in England, not merely as extensive house furnishers in the ordinary sense but as a firm ready to grant unusually favourable and equitable conditions of payment, to customers who may desire some concession in the way of "credit"; or, possibly, to pay for some part of such furniture as they may require, on what is now very well known as t "hire-purchase system." This firm's new premises in Tottenham Court Road (252 - 256) display a large and attractive choice of every kind of excellent and artistic household furniture; and the firm itself is ready to give every information, to supply illustrated catalogues, price lists, and brochures, and to explain in detail to customers the various advantages and facilities they are ready to afford.London of To-day
An Illustrated Handbook for the Season
Charles Eyre Pascoe, 1902