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Trade card and bill-head of Thomas Moore, Hosier & Framework Knitter, Chiswell Street
P.12922-R and P.12944-R

Both these sheets were issued from the shop of Thomas Moore at more or less the same time (the manuscript note of the back of the large trade card at the top of the page is dated one year earlier than the bill head below). However, the large trade card plate, with its elaborate frame, was produced much earlier: it features the figure Bishop Blaize (the sign of Moore's shop), rather than the street number. Shopkeepers in London were ordered as part of the 'paving acts' in the 1760s to take down hazardous hanging signs. Some businesses retained the old names in their address, even using them alongside new street numbers when they were assigned. Other proprietors, including Moore, discarded the old sign name, although he was clearly happy enough to continue using the old trade card, without re-working it to feature the new address.

During this period a great deal of what people used or wore was made in London. The city was one of the greatest manufacturing centres in the world, with the specialisations of labour seen by some as the key to its productive power. However there was also strong demand for imported goods, especially fabrics (see Bigge, Gibson & Ibbetson for further information). The Society of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce was founded in 1753 to raise national prestige in these avenues. It was keen to promote innovation in the production of goods imitating imports from Asia, including calicoes and woven materials. The Society did not offer continuous funding, but they did award one-off payments or 'Premiums' to inventors for designs in a range of products, and were keen to forge links between the fine arts and manufacture. Following the collapse of a short-lived carpet manufactory in Fulham in 1756, the Society focussed its attention on weaving, offering premiums for carpets made in imitation of those made in the Middle East. Thomas Moore received £25 the following year. The Mortimer directory of 1763 describes Moore as an 'artist,' who 'has brought his manufactory of English carpets to such perfection that it far excels the Persian'. The lettering on the trade card above states that Moore will produce carpets of any colour or pattern 'from Three Shillings per yard up to the finest Persia...'

Moore attracted the attention of architect Robert Adam, who commissioned him to weave the carpet for the Red Drawing Room at Syon Park, home of Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland. Below is an image of Adams' design (now in the collection at Sir John Soane's Museum, London), the geometric forms intended to mirror the moulding on the ceiling, and a detail of Moore's finished carpet (dimensions: 1050 x 432cm), still in place at Syon. Moore weaved his name and the date 1769 into a section of the border.

By courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John Soane's Museum. Photo: Ardon Bar-Hama

Collection of the Duke of Northumberland, Syon House

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