Dublin Shoe-Blacks Sixty Years Ago.

The Living age 7, 29.6.1844

Among the populace of Dublin, says the University Magazine, the show-blacks were a numerous and formidable body - the precursors of Day and Martin, till the superior merits of the latter put an end to their trade. The polish they used was lamp-black and eggs, for which they purchased all that were rotten in the markets. Their implements consisted of a three-legged stool, a basket containing a blunt knife, called a spudd, a painter's brush, and an old wig. A gentleman usually went out in the morning with dirty boots or shoes, sure to find a shoe-black sitting on his stool at the corner of the street. He laid his foot on his lap without ceremony, where the artist scraped it with his spudd, wiped it with his wig, and then laid on his composition as thick as black paint with his painter's brush. The stuff dried with a rich polish, requiring no friction, and little inferior to the elaborated modern fluids, save only the intolerable odors exhaled from eggs in a high state of putridity, and which filled any house which was entered before the composition was quite dry, and sometimes even tainted the air of fashionable drawing-rooms. Polishing shoes, we should mention, was at this time a refinement almost confined to cities, people in the country being generally satisfied with grease. [This custom still lingers in Paris; we have had our boots polished on the Pont Neuf; and boy shoe-blacks are to be found in most of the steamers playing on the Seine.]

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