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Stage Coach Passengers at Breakfast. Large reproduction print.

Stage Coach Passengers at Breakfast. Large reproduction print.

by Pollard, James

The coffee room of The Bull at Redbourn on the Holyhead Road just outside London. Reproduction print from an engraving by James Pollard, originally published in 1819 by R. Pollard & Sons.

By 1819 many coaches were pressured to reduce travel time, so they travelled through the night and only stopped briefly for meals (and shaves). From London to Edinburgh took two days with three stops for meals. At the more experienced inns, horses could be changed in two minutes, and sometimes in as little as fifty seconds. To increase their bar trade, inn-keepers sometimes bribed the coachman and guard to wait longer than their schedule allowed.

In this case, the guard in white hat or ‘castor’ is visible outside, blowing his bugle. In the room are two coachmen wearing the dragsman’s 'benjamin', a many-caped overcoat with large platter-like mother-of-pearl buttons. Handing his coach over to the one facing the fire, the coachman with the whip is touching his forelock or ‘kicking his passengers’ in solicitation for tips, to supplement a basic wage of 18 to 20 shillings per week. The usual tip was a shilling for a journey less than 30 miles, and two shillings for a longer one. Many tips were greater, but many did not tip at all. Not tipping was called ‘tipping the double’. Travel inside cost 4d. to 5d., and outside, 2d. a mile. A privileged passenger, allowed to travel up front with the coachman, was expected to be more generous.

The heroes of the road were ‘fashionable coachmen’, working on coaches which carried wealthy passengers ‘with good collars to their coats’, usually collecting about 1 pound a day in tips. Coachmen were looked up to by all. Ostlers rushed to their assistance, landladies and landlords welcomed them, and barmaids smiled at them frequently.

Slightly age-discoloured paper, 38 x 51cm (13 1/2 x 20 inches). Image size 32 x 47cm (12 5/8 x 18 1/2 inches).

Stock Number: daCoaching10Price: $33.00

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