So what exactly is that in the picture above? A mechanic’s file? A dressing table set? Or old face cream jars?
Well you would be correct in guessing a mixture of all three of the above items. Maybe these pictures can help.
It would have been used by someone like this man.
Oh and also doing this.
The Valet’s set was a one stop shop for utensils used in the preparation of clothes, removal of stains and the personal grooming of the valet’s master. It would have contained everything from a shoe brush to stain remover to shaving foam. A valet’s duty was to have everything up to date in his set and if anything was missing, it was his duty to replace it.
The Valet also had to know how to remove various stains before any items of clothing were sent off to be laundered. They also had to know what products were best for different type of stains. The Valet’s job ranged from being a laundry maid to a personal secretary.
The Valet’s job could be very lucrative. In a time when people in the lower classes rarely travelled for pleasure a Valet could accompany his master around the world. He would have been able to see places people only heard about in stories or in the newspapers. The valet could also receive his master’s old clothes and handsome tips if he was an exceptional valet.
Very happy Upper class travelling types. I wonder which man got the girl?
However, being a valet also had its downsides. The valet would be at the beck and call of his master twenty-four hours a day. He would be expected to wait up on his master until his master had finished dining or returned from a party. If the valet’s master was of a nasty disposition he could make life for the valet very hard. All in all the life of a Valet had it’s ups and downs, though it must have been a very interesting and exciting job to take on!
Please enjoy the pictures below of the Valet set. It was found at Mount Stewart House, where I volunteer, in a dusty old cupboard. Hence the slightly dull pictures and the levels of dust (and mould) on the set!
I think that this would have contained a stain remover of sorts. From what I could read of the bottle it said ‘Remover.’
This pink powder was hard to actually tell what it would have been used for. I came up with a couple of conclusions. It could have been used as a moth ball powder in clothes or used (possibly mixed with water) to remove stains.
This is the Valet’s set as I found it. As you can see there is a brush, various tubs and glass jars and what seems to be a file and a shoe horn. The set was not in a very good condition so it was hard to try and figure out what everything was used for!
I hope you have enjoyed this ‘Object of the Week’ post. I hope to make this a regular feature on my blog. If I can’t find an ‘Object’ of the week I will find a topic of conversation that is being talked about that week in the world of Museums & Heritage.
All pictures of the Valet set are © The Museum Standard 2013. All other pictures have links to their original sources.