'Half penny showman', 1808.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Hand coloured aquatint from 'The Costume of Great Britain' (1808), a book containing 60 images of people at work and scenes of everyday life. The image shows a showman and his peepshow. Attached to his waistband is a trumpet and to the right of him two boys stand on a step look into his peepshow. Behind them a lady and child wait to have a peep. William H Pyne (1769-1843), the son of a London weaver who became an artist and writer, was commisioned to write and illustrate the book by the publisher, William Miller of Albermarle Street, London. The first edition was printed in 1804, but the edition from which this coloured plate was taken was published in 1808. The illustrations are particularly notable as they portray British life on the eve of the Industrial Revolution.