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Trading Places: Eighteenth-Century Trade Bills at the Fitzwilliam

Following the Government announcement yesterday, museums and galleries in Cambridge will be closed to the public as part of a period of national/local restrictions. So, with great sadness, we will not be able to reopen as planned on 2 January 2021.

This online exhibition looks at some of the purchases made by a wealthy family living in London during the second half of the eighteenth century. The Fitzwilliam Museum is home to a small collection of tradesmen's bills, sent to members of one family – the Blathwayts – who lived on Golden Square, London, from 1767 to 1787. The selection of bills highlighted on these pages offers an insight into the extraordinary range of goods and services available in London, then the largest city in Europe. These transient documents of everyday life, covered in contemporary handwriting and elaborate flourishes, tell us something about what the Blathwayt household wore, used and consumed, but they also reveal facts about the men and women running the businesses, and how they advertised themselves to attract custom in late eighteenth-century consumer society.

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