Monday, September 19, 2016

An Early American Slop Shop, Now in Full Color

Last year, I published an article on slop shops and the ready-made clothing they offered in early America, and I included the only two known images of early American slop shops. One of these, drawn by tinsmith William Chappel and now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, shows a New York City streetscape in the early nineteenth century. Using Chappel's location description, I was able to identify this shop as that of Jacob Abrahams, who owned a clothing store on Water Street in 1813.

When I published my article, Chappel's image was only available in black-and-white. I'm delighted that you can now view it - and Chappel's many other fascinating paintings - in full color and stunning detail as part of the Met's Open Access for Scholarly Content program.

The detail below captures the garment variety, cloth color, and display techniques of a slops-seller like Abrahams. Chappell even delineated the tiny buttons of the trousers and coats hanging from Abrahams's storefront. He drew the shop years after 1813 and as background to a gruesome dog-catching scene, but Abrahams's store clearly left an impression on Chappel, who remembered how important slop shops once were to American waterfront communities.

Detail, William P. Chapel, "The Dog Killer," from The Edward W. C. Arnold Collection of New York Prints, Maps, and Pictures, Bequest of Edward W. C. Arnold, 1954, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 54.90.513.

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