Newsletter Steven Ferry

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, November 2018, The Wisdom of Butlers Past

Steven FerryThe Wisdom of Butlers Past

by Steven Ferry

Part 18— Brushing Clothes

Brushing clothes is another duty of the butler/valet and footman acting as a valet. The advice? Lay the clothes flat on a table, once dry, to brush them; or hang them on a wooden clothes horse (dumb valet) and beat them with a stick or a small whip, being careful not to strike the buttons and so break them.

One device one does not see much of these days, is a thin board with a slit in it, to slide under buttons and allow them to be cleaned without touching and dirtying the cloth of the garment. “Rub out the spots of dirt between your hands,” is one peculiar bit of advice.

Otherwise, there are complex instructions for brushing and folding a coat to fit into a “narrow compass,” (a carry-all), so that it is creased and rumpled the least, “as that makes the handsomest coat look shabby on a gentleman’s back.” The idea of folding items of clothing as little as possible, which carries through to our modern packing techniques, is central to the author’s concerns.

(To be continued in the next MBJ)


Extracted from the 1823 book, The Footman’s Directory and Butler’s Remembrancer, re-published in hardback by Pryor Publications.

You may obtain your discounted copy (with free s&h) by emailing the publisher: Mr. Pryor (


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