A History of Pockets

[Excerpts from A History of Pockets / Victoria and Albert Museum]

Wearing pockets

From the 17th century to the late 19th century, most women had at least one pair of pockets, which served a similar purpose as a handbag does today. There are no pockets visible on this woman’s ensemble of 1760. They were usually worn underneath their petticoats.

William Nutter, after William Redmore Bigg, ‘The Penny Lost’, England, 1803. Museum no. 28427.7

Sack-back gown, Britain, 1760. Museum no. T.77-1959

Men didn’t wear separate pockets, as theirs were sewn into the linings of their coats, waistcoats and breeches.

Location of pockets in men’s breeches, England, 1770-80

Detail of pocket on a man’s waistcoat, Britain, about 1750s. Museum no. T.197-1975

What did people keep in their pockets?

Sovereign coin of the Commonwealth, England, about 1653.

There were no mobile phones, car keys or credit cards in the 18th century. Nevertheless, women kept a wide variety of objects in their pockets. In the days when people often shared bedrooms and household furniture, a pocket was sometimes the only private, safe place for small personal possessions.

  • Money
  • Jewellery
  • Objects of vanity (mirror, scent bottle, snuffbox and comb)
  • Food
  • Bonbon box
  • Cakes
  • Even a bottle of gin

Snuff boxes, England, about 1765-75. Museum nos. C.470-1914 and C.478-1914

Eighteen Maxims of Neatness and Order, written by Theresa Tidy in 1819, lists the essentials for a pocket:

'It is also expedient to carry about you a purse, a thimble, a pincushion, a pencil, a knife and a pair of scissors, which will not only be an inexpressible source of comfort and independence, by removing the necessity of borrowing, but will secure the privilege of not lending these indispensable articles.

Pincushion, England, about 1900

Other useful things found in pockets were keys, spectacles, a watch and pocket books (diaries).

Buying and losing pockets

Many pockets were handmade and they were often given as gifts. Some were made to match a petticoat or waistcoat. Some were made over from old clothes or textiles. Pockets could also be bought 'ready made’. On the tradecard shown, the haberdasher (seller of dress accessories) advertises both pockets and fabrics to make pockets.

Haberdasher’s tradecard, England, 18th century. Museum no. 12853.12

However, many pockets were stolen - in the 18th and 19th centuries, thieves known as 'pickpockets’ removed men’s wallets and cut the strings of women’s pockets.

The records of Old Bailey Courthouse document the prosecutions of many pickpockets, for example:

'On 5 November 1716:
Robert Draw of London, labourer, was indicted for privately stealing from Martha Peacock a linen Pocket (value 2 shillings), 1 holland handkerchief (value 1 shilling), a pair of white gloves (value 1 shilling), a pair of scissors and 3 keys, on the 1st of December last, The prosecutor depos’d, that as she was going along the street, the prisoner came behind her, thrust his hand up her riding-hood, and pulled her pocket off; that upon her crying out, he was followed and knocked down, and the pocket found upon him. The prisoner deny’d the fact, but the jury found him guilty to the value of 10 pence.’
OBP 5 November 1716 Robert Draw (t17161105-31)

The Old Bailey records tell us that thieves used a variety of methods to snatch pockets such as cutting the pocket strings and grabbing the pocket or slashing the pocket itself so the contents fell out. Securing your pockets while you were asleep was difficult. Many people put their pockets under their pillows, but even here they could be stolen. On 26 June 1773, Ann Grey testified at Old Bailey against Mary Stewart:

'I put 7 shillings 2 pence in halfpence and 3 shillings in silver, and put the pockets under the bolster with this money in them at night when I went to bed. The prisoner got up and took away my pockets. Atwood stopped her, at whose house I lodged, between seven and eight in the morning. When she came up stairs I claimed the pockets; the prisoner said they were her’s. I said they were mine; there were 10s. 2d. in the pockets.’
OBP, 26 June 1773, Mary, the wife of Charles Stewart (t17730626-45)

Sometimes the pockets were stolen when empty along with other items of dress. All clothing was liable to theft as it was expensive and could be easily pawned. Advertisements for stolen goods often appeared in newspapers.

The Public Advertiser, 17 January 1772:

'STOLEN from a gentleman’s house at Fulham: four small tablecloths and one large one marked P.D., seven shifts, two of them fine ones, the other coarser, six pairs of stockings, three worsted, one cotton and one thread; a large silver spoon (the crest a bugle-horn); a tea-spoon with the same crest, a cotton gown, two pair of pockets, three coloured aprons, several gloves, handkerchiefs, aprons, dresser-cloths, stockings, etc. two pairs of sheets marked P.D.

'If offered to be pawned or sold, stop them and the party and give notice to Sir John Fielding and you shall receive five guineas reward on conviction of the offenders.’

This image shows the safest place for a pocket and the unsafest place.

A pocketful of crime

The trial of James Dalton, a notorious thief, reveals the safest way to wear pockets. In the proceedings of the trial the accused confessed:

'He says, what gave them the greatest advantage, was the custom the women have of wearing their pockets under their hoop petticoats, where they might whip hold of it without the least interruption; whereas, says he, if to the contrary they would put their pockets between their hoops and their upper petticoats, they might defy all the Buzzes (thieves) in London to haul the cly (snatch pockets).’
Europe's Pickpocketing Hotspots Revealed: Cities Where You Better Keep a Sharp Eye Out
Infographic helps you better understand in which tourist hubs of popular cities in Europe you have to be the most vigilant. It guides you through areas you are most likely to find some thieving hands in your purse. It’s certainly worth to check out and highly advisable, if you’re planning to go to any of...

Sleight-of-hand artist Apollo Robbins is so stealthy that he once started a conversation with Jimmy Carter’s Secret Service agents and had everything out of their pockets within minutes. They were completely unaware that he’d acquired their badges, watches, Carter’s itinerary, and the keys to his motorcade. Source

Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty

Via The New Yorker:

“In more than a decade as a full-time entertainer, Robbins has taken (and returned) a lot of stuff, including items from well-known figures in the worlds of entertainment (Jennifer Garner, actress: engagement ring); sports (Charles Barkley, former N.B.A. star: wad of cash); and business (Ace Greenberg, former chairman of Bear Stearns: Patek Philippe watch).

He is probably best known for an encounter with Jimmy Carter’s Secret Service detail in 2001. While Carter was at dinner, Robbins struck up a conversation with several of his Secret Service men. Within a few minutes, he had emptied the agents’ pockets of pretty much everything but their guns.

Gifs via: youtube/NBC

Robbins brandished a copy of Carter’s itinerary, and when an agent snatched it back he said, “You don’t have the authorization to see that!” When the agent felt for his badge, Robbins produced it and handed it back. Then he turned to the head of the detail and handed him his watch, his badge, and the keys to the Carter motorcade.”

Gifs via: Buzzfeed/YouTube/NewYorker


the glorious return of skye’s pickpocketting skills

I’ve seen some hc’s of Gavin joining the crew after he’s caught badly pickpocketing Geoff, but what if he wasn’t? What if Gavin was the thief who not only robbed the king of Los Santos and got away scott free, but was cocky enough to do it again and again. The first few times Geoff doesn’t even notice, thinks its bad luck, faulty memory, blames himself for the loss and moves on. So Gavin gets cheeky, takes bigger risks and pinches more and more expensive items, escalating until Geoff notices, then further still until the man is worked up into a rage about it.

When Geoff finally catches him (A moment Geoff swears up and down wasn’t orchestrated by Gavin, but even he has doubts) Gavin is decked out in Geoff’s missing rolex, his pricey cufflinks and obscenely expensive sunglasses, his tailored jacket and his goddamn favourite belt-buckle. He has Geoff’s phone, the keys to one hide-out and half-a-dozen stolen cars, a wallet full of cards and one very valuable custom-made beretta. But Geoff has him now, and he’s going to kill him. Except, well. Geoff wasn’t expecting a kid, and he sure as hell wasn’t expecting said kid to treat his aggressive interrogation like a freaking job interview.

Say what you will about his methods, Gavin’s a bright guy and it didn’t take him long to work out where the real power lay in Los Santos. He had no intention of messing around with low level gangs in the hopes of gaining the right attention, of working his way up to the big leagues. No, he knows his talents, is confident in his ability to talk his way into a job once he gets an audience, and boy does he like to make an entrance.

Casting Glamours

What is a glamour?

Stemming from the old Scots word, a “glamour” (always spelt with the British “ou”, as we are referring to the spell not the trait) is a kind of magickal spell or enchantment that a person casts upon an object, a person, or themselves to confuse, bewitch or obscure the senses of other observers. For instance, a pickpocket may use glamours as a means of assisting in the avoidance of detection, and a secret Witch may use a glamour to hide their spell supplies. Glamours are also one of the primary spells that the Fae Folk use to hide their presence, and also to make mischief and cause harm to intrusive or blundering humans who offend them. 

Why have I never heard of this before?!

Probably because it’s not very flashy and, by its very nature, it’s centred around concealment. Glamours are very powerful, very useful spells, but they don’t involve love or money or luck or happiness and so they tend to be overlooked by most novice or self-taught Witches. They’re also quite hard to perfect, and so many more experienced Witches give up before they have mastered them.

They are simultaneously very simple spells to perform, but very difficult to perfect, as they require significant effort of Will and a lot of practice but if you achieve a true glamour it can be one of the most powerful spells in any Witch’s arsenal. It’s also worth noting, however, that glamours do not conceal things from machines. Machines like metal detectors, security cameras and proximity detectors don’t have minds, and as such they cannot be fooled by magick that affects the mind and how the brain perceives senses. They also work poorly on animals, especially cats. Do not try to fool a cat with a glamour. Dogs are often confused by glamours, but generally see through them with time, and snakes and lizards are completely immune as far as I can tell (since their minds are not concerned with things that glamours affect).

OK, but how do I cast a glamour?

The first step is, as with all spells, to decide to do it. Decide “I am going to cast a glamour”. Know it in your soul, know that what you will do is magick, it is a glamour, and that it’s purpose is to hide yourself. Glamours on yourself are generally the easiest to start with, because they are the easiest kind with which to tell when something needs improving. 

Secondly, you must visualise strongly - and I mean REALLY strongly, let it consume your being - the purpose of the glamour. Fill yourself with the knowledge how how it will work, what it will do, how it will work. If you are looking for a glamour of imperception, whereby you attempt to make yourself hard to see by convincing the minds of people around you that you are utterly uninteresting and forgettable, fill yourself with that. Let to complete and utter truth of that ring through your head; 

“I am forgettable, I’m not even here. You don’t remember me, I’m utterly boring, I’m just another part of the background. Everything about me is empty and dull. There is nothing here”

And similar such truths. Let your Willpower make them true, let their truth fill the world around you through the strength of your visualisation.

Thirdly, sustain it. This is the hardest step, but a glamour will only last for as long as it is sustained and remembered. If you are visualising a glamour on something that moves or changes (such as yourself) this can involve literally constant reinforcement - never ever stop thinking those reinforcing statements and pouring all your Willpower into them. For objects that are more static, for instance a chest containing spell supplies, this can simply involve a period of refreshment every evening whereby you place your hands upon it and refresh the enchantment you’ve placed upon the chest, reminding it of how completely ignorable and boring it is, reminding it that nobody will open it because nobody will care enough to try, that nobody will notice it because it’s so dull it’s not even there. 

That seems REALLY hard, is there a simpler way?

The short answer is, no. This is why glamours are often quite unpopular - despite their obvious power and usefulness, the sheer effort of Will that goes into the construction of a glamour, and the amount of practice you need to get really good, can scare off a lot of Witches from truly persisting. Those who need glamours are often the only ones who are really any good at them - the best glamour-caster I have ever known developed her skill during her life as a pickpocket, when she used glamours to avoid getting caught. The simple fact that she has no criminal record attests to their efficacy! But, it took her a very long time to get that good, and most Witches simply don’t care enough to try.

However, I urge you to do so! It’s such a rewarding skill, even if only so that you can be the undisputed champion of paintball and laser tag in your friend group because nobody ever sees you in the shadows. 

So there you are! The ancient, powerful, and mostly-overlooked art of glamours! I hope this helped all you lovely Witches!

– Juniper Wildwalk

Gün olup beni seveceği düşüncesiyle avunamazdım. Gençtim, romantiktim ama,aşkı zamanla büyüyüp gelişen bir şey olarak göremiyordum. Maddelerine uyulacak bir anlaşma değildi aşk..ya bir bütündü, sizi tümüyle içine alırdı ya da aşk değildi , başka bir şeydi belki , daha mantıklı,daha sakin bir şey. kendine göre yine güzel bir şey… ama o şeyi istemiyordum ben.

Bana da acımakla vakit kaybetme Montjean. Ben hayatta kendi durumumu dikkatle saptadım. ne fazla mutluluğa, ne de fazla acıya yer bırakıyorum. Kendime güvenli ve kararlı bir yüzeysellik edindim. Zevklerim var ama iştahlarım yok. Gülüyorum, ama pek seyrek gülümsüyorum. Beklentilerim var, ama umutlarım yok. Esprilerim var, ama mizahım yok. Çok atağım ama hiç cesaretim yok. Açık sözlüyüm ama içtenliğim yok. Çekiciliği güzelliğe tercih ederim. Rahatlığı da yararlılığa tercih ederim. Güzel kurulmuş bir cümle bence anlamlı bir cümleden iyidir. Her şeyde yapaylığı seçerim!

Henüz hiçbir şeye teşebbüs etmediğim için, kendi yetersizliklerimden haberim yoktu. Bir şeye cesaret etmemiş olduğum için de, cesaretimin sınırlarını bilmiyordum.

Trevanian - ‘’ The Summer of Katya ‘’


“Another reason I decided to make Xiao Wu is that in 1997 I was getting ready to graduate from the Beijing Film Academy and after four years of watching Chinese films, I still hadn’t seen a single one that had anything to do with the Chinese reality that I knew. After the Fifth Generation’s initial success, their artistic works started to undergo a lot of changes. One of these big changes came with Chen Kaige, who once said, ‘I increasingly feel that film should be used as a vehicle to describe legend.’ I, however, could not disagree more. Sure film can describe legend, but where is it written that film can’t depict other things as well? Unfortunately, most of the Fifth Generation directors all followed this trajectory… But there was a very clear disconnect between these films and the current Chinese reality that we are living in. There is something about this phenomenon that left me feeling very unsatisfied, and it was partially out of this frustration that I decided to make films. I told my collaborators at the time that I wanted to express the here and now, and that has been the aim of our films ever since.” – Jia Zhangke (2002)


so you’re gonna tell me what’s in that letter you’ve been staring at?

                                                                               what letter?