Cleric or conman, curate or crook?:understanding the Victorian draper

Loxham, Angela (2016) Cleric or conman, curate or crook?:understanding the Victorian draper. Textile History, 47 (2). pp. 171-189. ISSN 0040-4969

Full text not available from this repository.


This article analyses contemporary perceptions of the Victorian draper. While neglected in academic literature, drapers were central to the public imagination, facing criticism for dishonesty in trade and condemnation for taking advantage of the vulnerable female shopper. Placing the focus firmly on the purchase of material goods, rather than shopping as a visual experience, the article argues that, while there was some truth in the negative characterisations, drapers operated in an industry that was rife with fraud and adulteration, made possible by an unregulated market. A strong belief in laissez-faire meant that individual failings were highlighted and condemned, without confronting the failings of the free market itself. The drapers’ own response was to provide an alternative portrayal of themselves, as ministering to women and serving them in an almost religious capacity. They, too, for the most part ranged themselves firmly against regulation, despite the harm that a free market did to their trade and the assaults on their character that resulted. As a consequence, both the public and the draper continued to suffer at the hands of an unregulated market.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Textile History
Uncontrolled Keywords:
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
12 Apr 2018 14:00
Last Modified:
15 Sep 2023 00:27