London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Curtains.
-HAND Curtains, but only good ones, I was assured, can now be sold in the streets. "because common new ones can be had so cheap." The "good -hands," however, sell readily. The most saleable of all -hand curtains are those of chintz, especially old-fashioned chintz, now a scarce article; the next in demand are what were described to me as "good check," or the blue and white cotton curtains. White dimity curtains, though now rarely seen in a streetmarket, are not bought to be re-used as curtains —"there's too much washing about them for London"—but for petticoats, the covering of large pincushions, dressing-table covers, &c., and for the last-mentioned purpose they are bought by the householders of a small tenement who let a "wellfurnished" bed-room or .
The uses to which the -hand chintz or check curtains are put, are often for "Waterloo" or "tent" beds. It is common for a single woman, struggling to "get a decent roof over her head," or for a young couple wishing to improve their comforts in furniture, to do so piece-meal. An old bedstead of a better sort may be purchased, and so on to the concluding "decency," or, in the estimation of some poor persons, "dignity" of curtains. These persons are customers of the street-sellers—the -hand curtains costing them from to
Moreen curtains have also a good sale. They are bought by working people (and by some of the dealers in -hand furniture) for the recover- ing of sofas, which had become ragged, the deficiency of stuffing being supplied with hay (which is likewise the "stuffing" of the new sofas sold by the "linen-drapers," or "slaughter-houses." Moreen curtains, too, are sometimes cut into pieces, for the re-covering of old horse-hair chairs, for which purpose they are sold at each piece.
-hand curtains are moreover cut into portions and sold for the hanging of the testers of bedsteads, but almost entirely for what the streetsellers call "half-teesters." These are required for the Waterloo bedsteads, "and if it's a nice thing, sir," said woman, "and perticler if it's a chintz, and to be had for , the women'll fight for it."
The -hand curtains, when sold entire, are from to man had lately sold a pair of "good moreens, only faded, but dyeing's cheap," for