Enfilade

New Book | Bertrand’s Toyshop in Bath: Luxury Retailing, 1685–1765

Posted in books by Editor on October 31, 2014

From the flyer (via Oblong Creative) . . .

Vanessa Brett, Bertrand’s Toyshop in Bath: Luxury Retailing, 1685–1765 (Wetherby: Oblong Creative, 2014), 364 pages, ISBN: 978-0957599246, £48 / $89 / €69.

101564Toys were expensive luxuries such as gold snuffboxes, buckles, watches, canes, and porcelain. Toyshops also sold children’s playthings, theatre tickets, elixirs and scientific instruments—and much more. Paul Bertrand was born in America of Huguenot parents. He worked in London as a goldsmith until his second marriage linked him to the family of England’s most successful toyshop owners, and took him to Bath.

With over 230 illustrations and 364 pages, this hardback book takes a fresh approach to the history of retailing and of Bath. Through the topography and society of Bath and London in the early eighteenth century, and through Bertrand’s newly-discovered bank account, it reveals how shopkeepers, craftsmen and merchants rubbed shoulders with actors and lawyers, courtiers and soldiers. Bertrand’s customers included royalty, the ‘middling sort’, country dwellers and townsfolk. The book is about commerce, about people, about the objects that were part of their daily lives, and the development of a fashionable resort.

Whereas many books on retailing, and books on Bath, focus on the last decades of the eighteenth century due to the availability of material, this book is about the first half of the century. The newly discovered bank account of this luxury shopkeeper is an important addition to the handful of known business archives relating to retailers of the period. It reveals the names of nearly 900 people of all social levels and over 100 trades and occupations. Paul Bertrand was at the centre of Bath life, not only because of his toyshop but also through the assembly rooms and carrier’s business of his partners. Illustrations include portraits, landscapes, maps, the paperwork on which banking and businesses depended, and the stock of a toyshop. The book will appeal to all those with an interest in the eighteenth century and the central role of trade and luxury goods.

Vanessa Brett was brought up in the City of London and now lives near Bath. She is a former editor of The Journal of the Silver Society.

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