The Vulgar Metal of Which Coal-Scuttles Are Made
August 8, 2012 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Your change, with thanks — Among the refinements of middle-class Victorian shopping was the giving of change not directly from hand to hand but in paper packets. The envelope, known as a ‘change packet,’ measured some 60 mm (2 ½ in) square and was printed with the legend ‘The change, with thanks’, often in a decorative roundel or other device.

This is but one of years of posts from the Graphic Arts Blog, a collection of exhibitions, acquisitions, and other highlights from the Graphic Arts Collection, Princeton University Library.

Other areas of interest include:

Publisher's trade bindings originally bound with Margaret Neilson Armstrong’s decorative gold stamping.

Sweet Papers, a single sheet of sixteen candy wrappers with color printed vignette and letterpress joke below.

Albert Paine tracked down every article, commentary, column, and publisher’s announcement regarding Nast’s life and stuffed them into the Thomas Nast Archive.

Memoirs and Anecdotes of Monsieur Alexandre, the Celebrated Dramatic Ventriloquist. Adventures of a Ventriloquist; or, The Rogueries of Nicholas . . . . Illustrations by Robert Cruikshank. Graphic Art holds a rare copy of the memoir of Nicolas-Marie-Alexandre Vattemare (1796-1864), an actor, ventriloquist, quick-change artist, and philanthropist, who used as his stage name Monsieur Alexandre.

There is so much more...
posted by netbros (14 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Very cool. I love the ivory jelly, made fresh daily (with the elephant).
posted by arnicae at 5:51 PM on August 8, 2012

THis is really interesting - in a lot of years dealing with Victoriana, I've never once encountered this.
posted by Miko at 5:59 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Duryea's Maizena! Jackson's Sapine! Reading Biscuits! (I never read without a packet on hand) and PATENT corn flour! This was the Golden Age of Consumer Products! Not to mention brand names! I mean "T. Watt"? "Cockermouth"? Those Victorians were a barrel of laughs!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:01 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Love this. Thanks! Also, I am proposing: Ask Metafilter: querying the hive mind your recommendation is respectfully solicited
posted by mean square error at 6:12 PM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

I don't think "Your recommendation is respectfully solicited" means the same thing as "querying the hive mind". It's more like Victorian for "Like us on Facebook!".
posted by benito.strauss at 6:39 PM on August 8, 2012 [17 favorites]

"Reading biscuits" is because they come from the town of Reading. Not because--delightful as the idea is--they were biscuits ideally formulated for the avid reader.

Huntley and Palmers were the great Reading biscuit firm.
posted by yoink at 6:48 PM on August 8, 2012

Wow. This is fantabulous.
posted by mightshould at 7:52 PM on August 8, 2012

What a great idea, I think I'll start using these at my shoppe.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 7:52 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

"Reading biscuits" is because they come from the town of Reading.

Yup. I couldn't resist the other interpretation, though.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:06 PM on August 8, 2012

Tee hee, "T. Watt, Biscuit and Bread Baker". Right next to "P. Ecker, Shoemaker" I suppose
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:06 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I gave the fifty cent change paquet to one of the many Wal Mart shopkeepers tending her till; and then I saw something which filled my very soul with horror. There she stood, looking as if her youth had been lost, for the iron-grey locks had given way to white hair; the cheeks withered, and the white skin like that of old bones. The deep, burning eyes set amongst swollen flesh fixated themselves upon me as she thrust the paquet at me. It seemed as if the whole awful creature were simply gorged with blood, like a filthy leech, exhausted with her repletion, but suddely realized that I was simply staring at the countenance of the woman behind me in line. I shuddered as I bent over, uttered apologies, and departed out of the building into the Sisyphean stretches of the carriage resting spaces.
posted by crapmatic at 9:36 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was at a friend's house where we were playing some game or another that requires a large number of tokens, which we did not have. I suggested that we use change, since I have a bowl full of it at home. This was quickly rejected by more than one person due to the unsanitary nature of change. I'm old and jaded enough that I was (mostly) able to hide my surprise and disappointment.

These packets remind me of that attitude. I hope they don't perform a comeback, but I expect we'll stop using all forms of physical money before that can happen.
posted by yath at 9:46 PM on August 8, 2012

A customer seeking to buy a pair of kid gloves ‘is met at the door by a master of the ceremonies, who escorts him to the precise spot where what he seeks awaits him...

I'm glad that this tradition of customer service still thrives at Best Buy.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:44 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow, this system seems open to abuse, especially compared to nowadays. What recourse did someone have if they got home and found they had been short changed?
posted by marienbad at 2:36 PM on August 9, 2012

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