|The Plantation Community
MR. CARLIN, THE TAILOR
|READ AND DISCUSS
George Mason wants a new suit in the latest style. No one at Gunston Hall does this kind of work. So, he travels about 20 miles north to the town of Alexandria, Virginia to place an order with Mr. Carlin, the tailor.
Tailors in the 1700s did the same things that tailors do today. They made and altered clothes. They supplied accessories, like buttons, for clothing. In the 18th century, tailors produced garments for boys and men most of the time. The only female clothes they made were suits for horseback riding.
Shopkeepers back then kept two account books. In one book, Mr. Carlin listed his business day by day. The other book was organized by customer. Each customer was listed on his own set of pages. Why did Mr. Carlin need both account books?
Read these entries from Mr. Carlin's customer account book. Each line is numbered for easy reference. The numbers did not appear in the original book. If you're stumped by some of the 18th-century words and spelling, look at the modern version of the text.
Answer the questions on each entry.
1. George Mason is listed as a debtor in this entry. What does "debtor" mean? Why is the word used here?
2. Pounds, shillings, and pence are forms of English money. The values are given in the chart.
Which form of money is worth the most?
Which form of money is worth the least?
Mr. Mason was charged in English currency. Why?
3. Shalloon (line 1) is an expensive wool fabric used for lining clothes. How much shalloon did Mr. Mason purchase? ______________________
How much did it cost? _____________________
4. Mr. Mason purchased breeches for a servant and for his sixteen-year-old son, George (lines 2, 3, and 5). Breeches are pants that were cut off just below the knee. A boy began wearing breeches between the age of three and seven. This was a sign that he was a "little man." Mark the breeches on the illustration with a "b."
5. Breeches were made from all kinds of fabric. Silk breeches were worn on fancy occasions. Wool, linen, and cotton breeches were for everyday use. Leather breeches (line 2) had special uses, because they were so durable. Mr. Mason's son George wore leather breeches for a specific activity. What was this activity?
How many pairs of breeches did Mr. Mason buy?
6. In all, how much money did Mr. Mason spend on breeches for his son George?
7. Mr. Mason purchased a waistcoat for his house servant (line 3). A waistcoat was a type of vest worn by boys and men under their coats. Mark the waistcoat on the illustration with a "w."
8. Most of the workers' clothes at Gunston Hall were made on the plantation. Why did Mr. Mason go to the tailor to order a waistcoat and breeches for his house servant?
9. Mr. Carlin did not charge for one item in this entry. What was it?
10. What was the total cost of all the items listed?
_______ pound(s) _______ shilling(s)
11. What did Mr. Mason do on January 14, 1771?
This entry shows orders for suits of mourning. Mr Mason purchased these clothes after the death of his first wife, Ann Eilbeck Mason. When a loved one died in the 18th century, family members wore black, plain clothes for a period of time to express their grief.
1. A suit in the 1700s (listed in lines 1-5) consisted of breeches, a waistcoat, and a jacket. How many suits did Mr. Mason buy on April 2, 1773? ________________________________________
2. The dates of birth for Mr. Mason's sons are given in the chart. How old were they when Mr. Mason placed his order for mourning suits? Complete the chart.
3. The mourning suits for William and Thomson were probably the same price. How much did each suit cost?
4. List the mourning suits from most expensive to least expensive.
5. John's suit was made of crape, a type of wool. What is the difference in cost between John's suit and the suit belonging to his father, George?
6. Mr. Mason purchased a mourning suit for James, a slave who was his personal servant. Why would James wear a mourning suit?
7. Give the total cost of the suits ordered on this day.
Gunston Hall Plantation
Mason Neck, Virginia 22079
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Open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day
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