London being the centre of the world's civilisation, in which, as it is needless to remark, Fashion fills an integrant and by no means inconsiderable part, its Temples are very freely distributed throughout the area of the great city. A cynic might, perhaps, be disposed to say that they are more numerous, frequented and popular than any other temples to be found within its limits. Regent Street, Bond Street and Piccadilly are almost wholly given over to them; Oxford Street will be found to comprise not a few, and in most of the thoroughfares westward...
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THERE are, as a matter of course, other things one may want in London besides articles of Dress. We might enumerate not a few within the compass of our own requirements; but to gratify all his wants one must needs be possessed of more than a fair share of money. There is hardly a street in the West End of London that does not daily tempt to an opening of the purse, if prudence did not stay the hand. Regent Street alone might empty it every day for a year; and leave nothing to expend on the innumerable attractions and novelties of Bond Street and Piccadilly, Oxford Street, and the adjacent streets westward. Wigmore and Orchard Streets, for example, make a very fascinating show of pretty things; and even in the unfashionable district of Tottenham Court Road, much is exhibited to the wayfarer that he might be reasonably pardoned for desiring to possess. In Messrs. Shoolbred's establishment alone there is great temptation to the breaking of the commandment against covetousness. Who could pass Messrs. Elkington's shop in Regent Street, or Messrs. Lambert's in Coventry Street, or Messrs. Streeter's in Bond Street, without a longing eye at some one or other of the many beautiful and artistic examples of gold and silver work, by which each hopes to attract purchasers?
It is impossible... to make note of every shop worthy the notice of the visitor to London. All its shops are deserving his attention; if not as magazines of art, as examples of enterprise and industry, or respectable evidences of personal effort on the part of their several tenants, in the not too easy work of earning a livelihood in London of To-Day.
If we knew exactly on what particular point the visitor might require to be informed, we take leave to say that he might be met with our ready and personal service. We yield to none in the local and general information at our command respecting London, in the honesty with which we strive to retail it, or in our desire to render the Reader all the aid in our power, in return for the three shillings and sixpence he spends upon the purchase of this book. But since we cannot foresee all his possible requirements, we can but trust to the chance of aiding him, by a few hints gathered from our own knowledge and experience.
The visitor will find no better place in London for buying English furniture of the best workmanship, than Johnstone, Norman, & Co. of 67, New Bond Street. They are manufacturers of the first reputation, and may be entirety relied upon in the execution of the most princely or the most modest commission. Their show-rooms exhibit some capital examples of English work in chairs, cabinets, tables, sideboards, etc., etc., and not a few excellent decorative designs and specimens of upholstery.
Other firms of the first rank in this line are Gillows, of Oxford Street; Coilinson & Lock, of the same thoroughfare; Gregory & Co., of Regent Street; Hampton & Sons, of Pall Mall East; Morris & Co., of Queen Square, Bloomsbury.
In the line of what may be termed "General Furnishers" Oetzmann & CO., of Hampstead Road (67 to 79), a continuation northward of Tottenham Court Road, occupy a prominent position. We believe theirs is the largest "Proprietary" furnishing establishment in the world, as yet untouched by all-pervading limited liability, Uetzmann's exhibit a well-selected stock at more moderate prices than commonly rule at the west-end of the town. Though finding its larger share of general trade among the "middle" and "upper-middle" classes, so called, the Firm has done excellent and tasteful work in several hotels, clubs, and large mansions. This may be fairly recommended as one of the best of the large London furnishing stores appealing specially to the economical tendencies of the householder. There are those who run astray in seeking "furniture on the hire-syslem" - a system which we believe to be in the long run of very doubtful economy to the hirer and not always honestly carried on by some who practice it.
Wardour Street had once a reputation for old furniture; but we cannot say much for the reputation now. Some good bits of old furniture may occasionally be picked up at Litchfield's in Bruton Street, with other interesting matters of ornaments.
Messrs Farmer & Rogers' successors (Gulley & Co.) 117-119, Regent Street, have a most interesting Indian department full of rare and beautiful things; Oriental embroideries, rugs, porcelain, bronzes, carvings, cabinets, and curios of various kinds, carefully selected, and in some instances unique.
Liberty & Co., of Regent Street, are perhaps the most popular firm of London of To-Day, at all events with ladies. Their windows are titled up with consummate taste, and comprise one of the attractions of the main thoroughfare. It is difficult to say what Liberty & Co. do not sell. Our houses are decorated with Liberty fabrics, or Liberty wares, of one kind or another. More than one fashion has originated with Liberty, which has outlived a season: their children's dresses, for example, than which few prettier have been designed.
They sell draperies, art fabrics, and curios of all kinds, collected from all parts of the world; carved Indian black-wood chairs, tables and flower-stands; Benares brass work; Japanese embroidered satins, and lacquer and enamel cabinets, bronze vases and ornaments and porcelain jars; Chinese carved work, porcelain and enamels; Arabian carpets, rugs, lamps; Turkish embroideries, jewellery and so forth. This place is, indeed, most captivating among the shops of London.
Every Londoner knows Mr. Lambert, of Coventry Street, the Silversmith, who has a fine collection of antique ware, and a fine taste in its selection. The amateur of Church Plate, for example, will find much to interest him here. He may see some admirable examples of ancient designs, no less than of modern workmanship. Lambert's is one of the few London silversmiths whose shop-window is sure to arrest the attention of the passer-by. And we doubt not that Mr. Lambert would welcome him within, if he be curious in such matters as Corporation maces and plate. loving-cups, patens, cruets, chalices, silver christening basins, and son on.
Barker of the same thoroughfare, and Leuchar's, of Piccadilly, are institutions of fashionable London - places where one may satisfy his (or her) taste, fancy or craving in the matter of bric-a-brac to the full, if one has the money.
Cremer, in Regent Street (210), is the principal dealer in children's toys, of which his establishment shows the best collection in London. Lunn & Co., of Oxford Circus is a good dêpot for the purchase of out-door and in-door games' appliances - as for example, racket and lawn-tennis bats, golf clubs, and so on, for which they have a reputation, as much recognised by the thrifty as by those of ample means.
The china and glass galleries are among the attractive show-places of London. The great English china factories of to-day are - Minton's, which has familiarised us with gigantic decorative pieces for halls, and, in the way of tiles for staircases, for walls and floorings, and such perfect imitations of some of the masterpieces of bygone ages, that it requires the eye of a very well-trained connoisseur to distinguish them from the original; the factory at Worcester producing the most fashionable class of china just now; Copeland's (the successor of Spode), famous for its statuary in porcelain, or rather Parian, ironstone, and earthen-ware; the Wedgwood factory, recalling old associations with the name; and the Doulton, turning out, perhaps, the most original and distinctly English ware of any, and notable for its colouring. The factory at Lambeth well deserves a visit. It employs a number of lady artists, and there is a museum and library attached to the fine buildings, which are of a very ornamental character.
Among the best-known dealers in Glass and China in London are Goode's of South Audley Street, Phillips of Oxford Street, Osiers of the same thoroughfare, and Mortlock's of Orchard and Oxford Streets. Their several collections of these always charming accessories of the boudoir, the drawing-room, the dining, and breakfast rooms, are, for artistic excellence and variety, not excelled by those of any firms in London.
Mr. Henry J. Allen, of 24, Jermyn Street, has a charming little depôt for china, collected with excellent taste and care. He has some beautiful examples of Dresden, Sèvres, Vienna, Danish, Coburg and English ware, in the shape of candelabra, clocks, figures and vases, well-deserving the attention of the collector, or any one looking around London for a few pieces to carry home as presents. We have seen many "a lovely little bit" Mr. Allen's store, and we commend it lo the notice of the collector.
The picture shops and galleries afford a pleasant retreat from the bustle and confusion, and sometimes, truth compels us to add, the dreariness, of London streets. Be the day never so gloomy and cheerless out of doors, one may always find brightness and entertainment within in looking over their treasures.
Assuredly, there is no lack of choice of such places in London of To-Day. The galleries of Messrs. Boussod-Valadon & Co. (successors to Goupil & Co.), Nos. 116, 117, New Bond Street, will transport the visitor to continental cities and scenes; at those of Messrs. Dowdeswell (No. 160) he will find himself for the most part occupied with glimpses of English scenery and English life. At the galleries of the Fine Art Society (148, New Bond Street, exhibitions are periodically held, mostly of the works of modern painters. There is Mr. Agnew not far away, who usually has on exhibition during the Season one or two pictures of exceptional merit; and the Continental Gallery, (157), New Bond Street, with some noteworthy examples by Norwegian, German and French painters, and specimens of porcelain. At the French Gallery (120), Pall Mall, of the Messrs. Wallis, an interesting assemblage of works by continental painters is to be seen during the season. Mr. McLean, in the Haymarket (No. 7), is a well-known collector of the works of modern English artists. Mr. Tooth, his near neighbour, is also well known in the picture trade; and Mr. Obach, of Cockspur Street, has a fine collection of engravings.
Messrs. Colnaghi, of Pall Mall East, devote most space to examples of the old masters of engraving. Mr. Graves, of Pall Mall (6), sells the best examples of the modern school. Mr., Lefèvre (1A), King Street, St, James' Square, another well-known London printseller, also shows favour to the work of living artists. We should judge that there is no more competent authority on the subject of engravings, old or new, than Mrs. Noseda of the Strand (No. 109). One never passes her place without seeing in the window two or more that deserve a frame of durable oak or lustrous ebony, and a place of honour in the library of the collector.
There is one attraction of the London streets which we should not fail to notice. In many of the shop-windows (those of the handsomely built frontage of the London Stereoscopic Company, 106 & 108, Regent Street, most conspicuous of all) are to be seen photographic views of picturesque places and scenes, and portraits of the more distinguished persons of the day.
Visitors interested in Photography, and amateurs of the art, cannot do better than pay a visit to this establishment, the contents of which comprise one of the most attractive exhibitions open to the public. The several suites of rooms, rising to five floors, connected by a lift, and comprising reception-, dressing- and instruction-rooms, studios and the like, are of fine proportions, and handsomely furnished in the modern style. Innumerable examples of photography, portraiture, landscape, interiors, etc., may be studied on the walls; and the amateur may occupy himself with the facilities the company provide for the practice of his art. These are sufficiently liberal, including dark-rooms lighted by electricity, and combining all the more modern improvements for developing negatives. For the use of these facilities the Manager informs us no charge is made; and such as become purchasers of the company's apparatus may be made proficient in its use in a few lessons and without additional charge.
Seeing that Amateur Photography has now become the fashionable amusement - nearly all the members of our Royal Family are experts in it, and the Emperor of Germany seldom, we are told, travels without his camera - it may be useful to the reader to know whereabouts in London he may find instruction in the art, and study the best examples of professionals and amateurs alike, and watch if he will the methods of both. Nowhere will he find more favourable opportunity of doing so than at the London Stereoscopic Company's place in Regent Street. Its several departments are the completest of their kind in Europe; and every variety of Photographic Work is to be found exhibited within; and not a little also to interest the by-passer may be seen from without.
"London: that great sea whose ebb and flow
An Illustrated Handbook for the Season
Charles Eyre Pascoe, 1892