Description

London exerted a great pull on visitors from both Britain and overseas during the Georgian period, drawn there by the many sights and spectacles to behold: the shops selling an array of new consumer goods, the theatres, tea gardens, taverns and historic palaces. Yet beneath this exterior of growing prosperity and entertainment lurked a dark underbelly. Naive visitors unaccustomed to life in the capital were regularly tricked by fraudsters and con-men, many of whom were quick to extract the money of an unwary traveller.

Among the many guide books and maps of London published during the 18th and early 19th centuries were several advice books describing the perils of the town. The colourful images shown here are drawn from one such visitors guide published in 1829, and illustrates several dangers to be wary of: gaming tables and fortune tellers, for example, or being accosted by sailors or Jews. As in many cities today, pickpockets were considered to be a particular hazard to the urban traveller, and these guides undoubtedly offered indispensible advice to those uninitiated in the ways of the city.

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