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Old June 9, 2007, 11:50 AM   #214
4V50 Gary
Join Date: November 2, 1998
Location: Colorado
Posts: 19,341
Don't let your sons grow up to be painters...

The following is quoted from Jessica Warner's "John the Painter." It is the story of a painter turned highwayman, who, hoping to achieve the recognition he believed he deserved, became an American Agent (terrorist) in England bent on destroying military installations like the Royal Dockyard at Portsmouth. He devised his own incendiary devices and attempted to start fires that would cripple England. Poor matches doomed his enterprise and after several attempts, he was caught and hung. It's a great look at the Scots in England and in America during the Colonial period and of the people in general. While not strictly a military book, Warner provides an excellent account of one man's struggle in the 18th Century.

"In the Middle Ages, only painters knew how to mix colors and apply them properly; by the eighteenth century, these skills had lost their specailist standing, and the trade faced competition from several directions. The biggest threat came from paint shops, which were starting to spring up in the larger towns. These shops were a threat because they could mix and sell paints at a fraction of the price charged by professional painters. ONe such shop was already operating in London by 1734, and its enterprising proprietor , Alexander Emerton, was only too happy to provide his customers with printed directions. With Emerton's paints and Emerton's little manual, homeowners were known to have "painted whole houses without the assistance or direction of a painter, which when examined by the best judges could not be distinguished from the work of a professional painter." Homewoners who did not wish to dirty their hands and clothes might hire common laborers to do the job instead. These, too, Emerton was only too happy to provide."

Thanks to entrepreneurs like Emerton, there was already a glut of professional painters by 1747, the year when Robert Campbell published his career guide for boys and their parents. As far as Campbell was concerned, "no parent ought to be so mad as to bind his child apprentice for seven years, to a branch that may be learned almost in as many hours, in which he cannot earn a subsistence when he got it, runs the risk of breaking his neck every day, and in the end turns out a mere blackguard." "This branch," he added, "is now at a very low ebb, on account of the methods practised by some colour-shops, who have set up horse-mills to grind the colours, and sell them to noblemen and gentlemen ready, mixed at a low price, and by the help of a few printed directions, a house may be painted by any common labourer at one third of the expence it would have cost before the mystery was made public." In 1761, the same year that Aitken was admitted to Heriot's, the trade was still hopelessly "overstocked," and parents were being discouraged from selecting it as a future occupation for their sons."
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!
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