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Warren’s Blacking was a leading manufacturer of shoe-black (shoe-polish) in the 19th century. Available as a liquid in bottles or as a paste in pots, the blacking was ‘sold in every Town in the Kingdom’ as this advertisement boasts. Notoriously, Charles Dickens worked at Warren's Blacking Factory when he was 12 years old, during the period his father was imprisoned for debt. his job was to paste labels onto the blacking pots.
This small printed advertisement is cut from a newspaper. As typical of all of Warren’s advertisements, its header illustration is comic in tone and emphasises the blacking’s high quality: a cockerel peers at a boot, observing its own reflection in the newly shined and blacked shoe.
Industrialisation led to a dramatic increase in child labour. Professor Emma Griffin explores the dangerous, exhausting work undertaken by children in factories and mines, and the literary responses of writers including Charles Dickens and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.