Scottish Genealogy

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Christmas Shopping in 1861 - today's adverts in the Caledonian Mercury

As I undertook some more of my festive shopping today on a pretty busy Princes Street here in Edinburgh, I began wondering what I could have bought for those nearest and dearest to me in the past.  Now, the Scots traditionally have been more animated about New Year than about Christmas, but I decided to take a browse through the options available in the adverts from the Caledonian Mercury newspaper on this day 150 years ago...

Now, for the man in your life you could perhaps choose something from your fine local milliner's - 'The Operative Hat Company' of 73 St Mary's Wynd were advertising that 'we make as good hats as can possibly be made' and that they could 'sell cheaper than any other house in town'.  Great - that's the place for me!

If you really wanted to spoil him then perhaps you could get some ox hide leggings at 7s 6d , sold by 'The Ox Hide Leather Leggings Factory' (who knew there could be such demand that a factory would be needed?)

Ladies were reminded on the same page 'in making your purchases for the laundry, do not forget GLENFIELD PATENT STARCH' used by 'her majesty's laundress' no less.

You can also treat someone to some fine corned beef (at the Royal Emporium on George Street), first class teas (at J Pirret's on Clerk Street) and American apples and Russian cranberries (at Baxter's Place).

Image: Toa55 /

All the makings of a cheerful Christmas for everyone there I think.  And for some light reading whilst digesting the apples and cranberries, perhaps the newly released Memorable Women of the Puritan Times or the 'temperance tale' entitled Drift: A Story of Waifs and Strays...

All adverts quoted are from the front page of the Caledonian Mercury from the 17th December 1861


  1. Ox hide leather leggings - much better than a Christmas jumper :-) Jo

  2. I think so too Jo - it sounds like a most useful Christmas shop, shame it's not there other half will just have to make do with socks instead of attractive leggings!

    Merry Christmas to you!