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The Street Locksmith - Victorian era public domain image


The Street Locksmith - Victorian era public domain image



From 'Street Life in London', 1877, by John Thomson and Adolphe Smith:..“The owner of the stall in the accompanying photograph had, however, a different story to tell concerning keys. He possessed some keys which he would gladly sell for twopence, and he reminded me that this branch of his business was subject to certain restrictions which made him at times "lose a job or two." If keys were sold and made indiscriminately, burglars, and in fact all thieves would find easy access to other people's property. Hence certain laws were enacted with the object of preventing anyone buying keys save the rightful owners of the locks they were intended to fit. A locksmith is, therefore, not allowed to make a key from an impression. Either the lock itself must be brought to him, or the locksmith must be allowed to enter the premises and fit his key into the door. Otherwise it would suffice to obtain an impression of a key on a piece of soap or wax for a thief to procure himself a similar one, and thus open the lock protecting the coveted treasure. Further, it is illegal for a locksmith to lend a bunch of his keys; and, in a word, before exercising his art to open locks he must assure himself that his services are not required for any dishonest purpose.”..For the full story, and other photographs and commentaries, follow this link and click through to the PDF file at the bottom of the ( )

Victorian Times London. Victoria was born May 24, 1819, Kensington Palace, London, United Kingdom, and was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death, January 22, 1901,

The project “Street Life in London’ was created in 19th century by the radical journalist Adolphe Smith and the photographer John Thomson. The monthly magazine, that was publishing from 1876 to 1877 included texts and images of people on the London’s streets. That was a new genre of social documentary photography, which preceded the appearance of photojournalism. Their work captured the life of ordinary people who eked out a precarious and marginal existence. There were shoe-blacks, chair-caners, musicians, flower-sellers, and many others. The interest to the urban poverty gives the authors the reputation of the pioneers in photojournalism and their project now considered as a classic instance of social documentary. Later, in 1878, the photographs were published in book form. The verses of this book were scanned and now stored in British Library of Political and Economic Science, which is located in London. John Thomson was a talented and influential photographer, who had spent ten years travelling in, and taking photographs of, the Far East. On his return to London he joined with Adolphe Smith, a socialist journalist, in a project to photograph the street life of the London poor. The volumes were published in monthly parts as Street Life in London, and were an early example of social and documentary photography. Street Life in London, published in 1876-7, consists of a series of articles by the radical journalist Adolphe Smith and the photographer John Thomson. The pieces are short but full of detail, based on interviews with a range of men and women who eked out a precarious and marginal existence working on the streets of London, including flower-sellers, chimney-sweeps, shoe-blacks, chair-caners, musicians, dustmen and locksmiths.





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