By B. Lemire
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Additional resources for Dress, Culture and Commerce: The English Clothing Trade before the Factory, 1660-1800
96 At least 4000 shirts were exported from 1684 to 1694. The cheapest calico shirt cost one shilling and sixpence, but the cheapest linen shirt cost one shilling and eightpence; linen shirts were commonly a bit more expensive. From this distance it is impossible to get a sense of the weight of the fabrics and the comparative sturdiness of the garments. The most cosdy linen shirt was listed at four shillings, fourpence more than the painted calico shirts. Shirts and coats came in many styles. Leading aboriginal traders, and other favoured natives, received gifts of specially made coats, sewn from quality wool or worsted fabrics and decorated with distinctive buttons and braid.
This course would be followed by others in the eighteenth century. DJ. Smith notes the outstanding achievement of Richard Lowe in this field. His London woollen drapery business, begun in 1740, was undistinguished until the 1750s when he obtained regimental contracts. Lowe expanded his trade by first supplying the militia, the bottom end of the contracting business. He built on this success, next acquiring the contract as sole supplier for the marines during the American War. This was an economic turning point for Lowe; with this deal Lowe garnered sales of over £35000 in 1782.
43 Some of the contractors were active throughout the whole period covered by this ledger and others were in evidence only for shorter periods. 1 reflects the volume of slops provided by one of the dealers. 05rf. 08d. 00d. 07d. 08d. 1760-70 1760-70 1766-70 1760-62 20 Dress, Culture and Commerce War, when the pressures to supply combatants were high. 46 The production of slops abated with the end of the war. Fewer shirts were delivered over the remaining years of the decade to 1770 than in that frenzied two-year period during the Seven Years War, suggesting the pressures on manufacturers to find alternative markets once naval ships were decommissioned and sailors demobilized.