Pearly King - Working Class Royalty
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Krink and acrylic pen handfinished Giclee print on 300gsm Hannemuhle paper
signed and numbered 1/1 unique
The practice of wearing clothes decorated with mother-of-pearl buttons is first associated with Henry Croft (1861-1930), an orphan street sweeper who collected money for charity. At the time, London costermongers (street traders) were in the habit of wearing trousers decorated at the seams with pearl buttons that had been found by market traders. In the late 1870s, Croft adapted this to create a pearly suit to draw attention to himself and aid his fund-raising activities. In 1911 an organised pearly society was formed in Finchley, north London. Croft's funeral in January 1930 was attended by 400 followers and received national media coverage. In 1934 a memorial, referring to him as "The original Pearly King", was unveiled in St Pancras Cemetery, and in a speech to mark the occasion he was said to have raised £5,000 for those suffering in London's hospitals.