V33: Only Death and Taxes, in the 18th century

I have done absolutely nothing costume-related in the past couple of days, and that is because I’ve started my 2011 taxes.


‘Course, taxes in the 18th century were a big deal too in England, and were a major factor when it came to the Revolutionary War in the American Colonies.  School children everywhere know this one, “no taxation without representation!”

I kindof feel that way right now.

Here are some 18th century cartoons about taxes, from the Lewis Walpole Library:

An enquiry concerning the clock tax Woodward delt. (clock tax, August 1797)

In this case, the Clock Tax was taxing public service wall clocks, particularly in taverns, but also extended to watches.  The poor man in the cartoon is asking about his clocked stockings.  (Historical LOL)

A visitor to John Bull for the year 1799, or, The assess’d taxes taking their leave!!

Taxes as demons.  Nothing has changed.

An unwelcome visit Woodward del.
Is the Taxman *ever* welcome?
John Bull troubled with the blue devils!! Woodward del. ; Cruikshank sp.
John Bull’s devils are House Tax, Window Tax, Salt Tax, Tea Tax, Income Tax, Wine Tax, and Hair Powder Tax. 
You’ll notice that “John Bull” is a recurring character in these cartoons.  John Bull was a personification of Britain, particularly England, much like Uncle Sam is for the US, and usually appeared as a middle-aged, stout, jolly, country gentleman. (except in this last cartoon, where he’s clearly stressed out of his mind as to how he’s to pay for his damn hair powder tax).
Leaving off powder, or, A frugal family saving the guinea
Here’s another to do with hair powder.  I love the distressed expression of the girl looking in the mirror, and also the way the Frenchman on the left is depicted.
The Devonshire amusement J. M. W.
 Do you recognize Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, showing her support for Whig politician Charles Fox?


  • Margravine Louisa

    February 3, 2012 at 2:36 AM

    hmmmm…especially for the small businessperson, tax-time can be somewhat of a headache. Tossing all the receipts into the overflowing shoebox, one resorts to stuffing them in all kinds of places, only to fly into a panic when it is time to collect and organize….wait….did someone say Shoes?
    Shoe shopping?! (B'Bye!)

  • Ellen Widstrand

    February 8, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Lauren, is it annoying to pay taxes for you guys because it takes a lot of time and is tiring, or simply because you don't want to pay taxes? Haha, do you see what I mean? Sounds like it's a whole-day-project each year only to pay taxes.

  • Blitzmadchen

    June 7, 2015 at 7:52 AM

    The funny pictures….200 years old and going strong still. The family is funny, with a nod to King Charles the second and his era's monstrous wigs, the teenager looking miserable at the mirror of her hair do being unpowdered. And the socks!

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