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Can anyone identify what this peg-legged not-so-ancient looking warrior is doing to make a few pence on Hyde Park Corner, ca. 1800? Is he wearing a Chelsea pensioner's uniform or his old regimentals?

Above the squirrel? or rat? appears to be a row of small bells. Everyone I've shown this to is at a loss for words...




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Nah Guys, :beer:

he is a peg-leg maker using the latest squirel powered peg-leg shaver, depending which of the 3 sockets the wooden peg is placed in, affects the diameter of the peg-leg, a technical wonder for its day.

The bells are rung to announce which stage the process is at by the squirrel.

Having a real peg-leg operator was a major advertising advantage as the man could answer and potential customers questions with regards the items being made, such as a good wood for wet ground (particularly of interest to any one-legged swamp-dwellers from the Fens :speechless1: Do the straps chaffe . . .etc. . etc. .

However a unscruplous company might hire a "civilian" dressed in military uniform as a cheap trick, accounts have been recorded, that when such a trick was discovered the man, machine and squirel were deposeted in the nearest cess-pit :speechless:

Kevin in Deva :rolleyes:

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He's operating a peep-show. (There's a picture of another one below.)

Essentially it was a portable entertainment consisting of a box which could be carried on the back like a pack and a small folding table to stand it on. There was also a flap somewhere which could be opened to let in light. Customers looked through the round holes. Inside there might be a representation of a royal procession or a sea-battle painted on a long roll of paper. The showman would wind the roll across the field-of-view, giving a very primitive impression of movement or progression. The showman could them give a commentary. Other subjects could be the story of a notorous and recent "horrid murder" - the crime, the capture, trial, imprisonment and execution, etc.

More sophisticated peep-shows used articulated images operated by rods, so sword-arms could slash, horses could gallop, and so on.

The squirrel on the treamill, ringing the bells, is just an attention-getter!



Edited by Tom Morgan
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