Tuesday 31 January 2017

Sophia Banks's Trade Card

Sophia Banks was the sister of the famous naturalist and all round polymath Jospeh Banks.
She would make astute observations of the natural world and many of her ideas found a place in her brother's writings. She is perhaps best remembered for her large collections of ephemera which are now housed in the British Museum. The thousands of visit-cards, trade notices and prints are the detritus of an elite gentlewoman's life. It's particularly pleasing therefore to find this rather fabulous trade card, one of three from Iverson and Sons in her collections.

Trade Card of Iverson and Stone (c.1792) Collection of Sophia Banks
Copyright: The Trustees of the British Museum. Museum Number: D,2.2084

In Georgian England, angling was a gentle art, enjoyed equally by both men and women. Rivers and lakes became dotted with dinky little houses, furnished with comfortable chairs for ladies to pursue this art in comfort, with servants to do disgusting things like baiting hooks. It would be wrong to conclude that such comfort replaced an angler's obsession and enthusiasm for the sport. Look at Lady Mary Coke's account of fishing with Princess Amelia in 1768,

The Princess order'd me to attend her to the Great Water to fish: 
in two hours I catched three score; two large carpe & above twenty considerable perch;
the rest small. The Princess catched about forty, but none so large as mine, to the great 
mortification of the page who attended her. He seem'd to think it a reproach that the 
Princess shou'd catch less fish than mine: his distress made me Laugh.

Op.cit. Kate Felus The Secret Life of the Georgian Garden, pg. 84.