In 19th century London street traders were known as costermongers. They would decorate their clothes with mother of pearl buttons to attract customers. In the 1870s an orphaned rat catcher named Henry Croft covered an entire suit with these pearl buttons and used the notarity of his “Flash Boy Outfit” to raise money for charity.
Thus "The Pearlies" were born. The kindly legion of best dressed among the London poverty set. To hear them talk “well dressed” was something on the order of a transmogrification of an essential something or other that’s always of very very great importance… you know… clothes make the man!
From Henry Mayhew’s "London Labor and the London Poor" on the well dressed Costermonger:
Upper Benjamins, built on a downey plan, a monarch to half a finnuff. Slap up Velveteen Togs, lined with the same, 1 pound 1 quarter and a peg. Moleskin ditto, any colour, lined with the same, 1 couter. A pair of Kerseymere Kicksies, any colour, built very slap up, with the artful dodge, a canary. Pair of stout Cord ditto, built in the `Melton Mowbray' style, half a sov. Pair of very good broad Cord ditto, made very saucy, 9 bob and a kick. Pair of long sleeve Moleskin, all colours, built hanky-spanky, with a double fakement down the side and artful buttons at bottom, half a monarch. Pair of stout ditto, built very serious, 9 times. Pair of outand-out fancy sleeve Kicksies, cut to drop down on the trotters, 2 bulls. Waist Togs, cut long, with moleskin back and sleeves, 10 peg. Blue Cloth ditto, cut slap, with pearl buttons, 14 peg. Mud Pipes, Knee Caps, and Trotter Cases, built very low. A decent allowance made to Seedy Swells, Tea Kettle Purgers, Head Robbers, and Flunkeys out of Collar.”
But so much for background and now back to our own dear boy… for even with this magnificent history, life’s little difficulties weigh upon him. He carries the great gulf between happy and sad on his tiny shoulders because he is also Pierrot. Oh Woe.
Therefore Buster and Charlie, Roberto Benigni and Jacque Tati. He’s the child of paradise.
Vitrine is painted in pearlescent blue
(I used eye shadow pigment… really)
And the buttons are nailed on, not glued (scandal!) with tiny brads.
He's dressed in blue silk.
And the buttons are stitched on.
(no glue, no glue!)
He’s jointed. Even his knees bend in his tiny pants.
You doubt me? Ask him.
His favorite song:
“I Only Have Eyes For You”
(as heartbreak is eternal)
You doubt me? Ask him.
The vitrine is 7ft. tall
The puppet 3 1/2 ft tall