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Mrs Holt’s Italian Warehouse

In the 1720s, Mrs Holt’s Italian Warehouse (a warehouse was a sort of 18th-century department store) in the Strand opposite Exeter Change. According to the trade card that William Hogarth engraved for her, she stocked

‘all sort of Italian silks as Lustrings, Sattins, Padesois, Velvets, Damasks, &c, Fans, Leghorne Hats, Flowers, Lute and Violin Strings, Books of Essences, Venice Treacle, Balsomes, &c, And in a Back Warehouse all sorts of Italian Wines, Florence Cordials, Oyl, Olives, Anchovies, Capers, Vermicelli, Bolongnia Sausidges, Parmesan, Cheeses, Naples Soap’.

The ‘Mrs’ in Mrs Holt designates her status as a businesswoman (a mistress of employees) and not her marital status. ‘Mrs’ bore no implication at all of marital status until after Mrs Holt’s time.

The original trade card is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I found the text in Peter Quennell’s Hogarth’s Progress (1955), pp.32-3.

(image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

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