Ben Miller

A Hair-Cutter’s Challenge, 1702

In Bizarre and Unusual, Dress and Fashion on February 8, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Mr. Sheridan, in the Critick, forcibly exposes the various kinds of puffs used by Tradesmen and Authors; and he classes them very justly into the puff direct, indirect, &c. The first instance which occurs of a case in point, after 1700, is the following from a Hair-dresser, which fraternity is notorious for extreme modesty and truth in their addresses to the publick:

“Whereas a pretended Hair-cutter, between the Maypole in the Strand and St. Clement’s church, hath, without any provocation, maliciously abused Jenkin Cuthbeartson behind his back, at several persons’ houses, and at his own shop, which hath been very much to his disadvantage, by saying that he was a pitiful fellow and a blockhead, and that he did not understand how to cut hair or shave: I therefore, the said Jenkin Cuthbeartson, think myself obliged to justify myself, and to let the world know that I do understand my trade so far, that I challenge the aforesaid pretended hair-cutter, or any that belongs to him, either to shave or cut hair, or any thing that belongs to the trade, for five or ten pounds, to be judged by two sufficient men of our trade, as witness my hand this 9th day of November, 1702, Jenkin Cuthbeartson, King-street, Westminster.”

* The artist against whom this advertisement was leveled was Bat Pigeon, whose sign of a Bat and a Pigeon once attracted much attention, and of whom honourable mention has been made both by Steele and Addison. Honest Bat had a very handsome house and shop on the North side of the Strand, a few doors from St. Clement’s Church Yard.

– Malcolm, James Peller. Anecdotes of the manners and customs of London during the eighteenth century. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, 1810

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