What was a Rag & Bone Man?

Discussion in 'Other Occupations & Trades' started by kernowmaid, Sep 20, 2017.

  1. kernowmaid

    kernowmaid Well-Known Member

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    I come from the generation where children did not call adults by their Christian name - it was either Mr or Mrs, or (for the more well-known) Auntie or Uncle (our dinner lady at school was always - and still is! - Auntie Joan).

    My cousin remembers going with her mum to the Rag & Bone man in York - an "Uncle" - but she can't remember the Christian name, just that the name CLANCY was over the door. Clancy is our Gran's maiden name, so he could, possibly, be related.

    My question (at last, you cry!) is - what exactly did a Rag & Bone Man do? Was it just the original version of recycling? What did he do with the clothes? What does the "Bone" part mean?
    And how would it appear in the Occupation column of a Census? Or in a Trade Directory? (This was in the 1950's/1960's)

    I'm trying to find him - all suggestions most welcome!

    Jane
     
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  2. Daft Bat

    Daft Bat Administrator. Chief cook & bottle washer! Staff Member

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    I can remember the rag and bone man coming round the street when I was a child (1950s) and collecting up all unwanted clothes, pots and pans, ornaments etc. Almost anything! Think "Steptoe and Son"! :D

    It originates from when they used to walk round the towns, collecting anything unwanted and selling them on to whoever might do so. Original recycling ;)

    You may find it listed in the censuses as "Totter"
     
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  3. Bay Horse

    Bay Horse Can be a bit of a dark horse

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    Totters, yes.

    I suppose they have been replaced by the modern scrap man going around in a flat-bed truck. I remember the rag and bone man from the 1960s, complete with horse and cart - as Jan says, just like 'Steptoe'.

    Jane, google 'Victorian bone grubber'.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2017
  4. kernowmaid

    kernowmaid Well-Known Member

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    Thank you both. I now know what a "totter" was - and the articles on "bone grubbers" are fascinating!
    Is it any wonder that my Tree is taking years to do ... I keep getting distracted with these interesting sidetracks :)

    Jane
     
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  5. AnnB

    AnnB Editor in Chief who is Hot off the Press!

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    When I was a child (in the 1950's), we used to have a rag and bone man who came around with his horse and cart and who handed out a goldfish for any large 'donations' :rolleyes: I think any bones collected were sold to make glue.
     
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  6. AnnaJenny

    AnnaJenny Well-Known Member

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    I remember that as well.
    I was also told that.
     
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  7. Archie's Mum

    Archie's Mum Always digging up clues

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    Bones here were from the butcher and went to the fertiliser factory for blood and bone for the garden. I don't think we had rag and bone men over here. If we did then I have no recollection of them.
    I only remember 'Arold in Steptoe and Son, and 'you're a dirty old man'.:)
     
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  8. Jellylegs

    Jellylegs Well-Known Member

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    I remember the rag and bone man coming round when I was young. Think he used to call out "any old iron", but the way he stretched the word "iron" was really creepy and scared me to bits. I used to hate it and always hide indoors.
     
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  9. Archie's Mum

    Archie's Mum Always digging up clues

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    I just listened to the song 'Any old iron' on YouTube and one comment was "I thought rapp music was only invented 30 years ago". :)
     
  10. Ma-dotcom

    Ma-dotcom A Bonza Little Digger!

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    I remember them, more so Mum or Dad saying 'he' was out there.
     
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  11. Nightryder

    Nightryder Well-Known Member

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    In Leicester in the 60's I remember the rag & bone man leaving a plastic bag with a coloring book & crayons sticking out of the letterbox.
     
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  12. Sis

    Sis Rootles out resources!

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    In the 60's I remember them too, though only when we were visiting my Aunt. Don't recall them coming around our way.
     
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  13. MollyMay

    MollyMay Knows where to find the answers!

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    It is not rapp but Skiffle - my brother belonged to a skiffle group (in the 50's) and he 'played' the guitar or the wash-board!

    Back in the 50's mum used to buy marrow bones from the butcher and bake them in the bottom of the oven (cow thigh bones cut into 2, so they fitted) for hours "to get the goodness out. The rag and bone man would then be given the bones to save putting them in the dustbin. He came around regularly on his horse and cart and afterwards there would be a race to see who could get the
    'manure' for their garden!
     
  14. Archie's Mum

    Archie's Mum Always digging up clues

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    I think he meant that there was a similarity to the old skiffle. Maybe that's where it's inspiration came from. As to rapp, not for me.
     
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  15. Sis

    Sis Rootles out resources!

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    When we have a roast leg of lamb I am the only one to get (or even wants!) the marrow from the bone, yuuuuummmmmm!! Cooks perogative!:D
     
  16. AnnaJenny

    AnnaJenny Well-Known Member

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    Digging it out with a knitting needle kept out the kitchen drawer. Beef bones as well.
    Top of the milk was another 'treat'. Not for todays kids with healthy semi-skimmed/almond:( milk and whatever else is good for you. We needed the cream because horror of horror we walked to school and played outside.
     
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  17. Schnurrbart

    Schnurrbart Active Member

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    As a kid in Metropolitan Essex (now apparently, part of the East End :eek:) the cry of the rag & bone man was "Old rags & lumber, any old rags" and not just goldfish, but also, "day old chicks". And Sunday it was the sea food barrow and the cry (was meant to be Shrimps and periwinkles, all fresh) came out as "Frimps and a periwinkools, aall fresh". Horse drawn milk float, baker's handcart and the "oil man" with his horse drawn emporium.
    PS Lumber = Unwanted furniture and other such articles.
     
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  18. mikejee

    mikejee Well-Known Member

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    Or better for getting the marrow out, a skewer, which got more out quicker. Haven't seen a skewer (used for keeping meat together while cooking) for ages. Used to have one in my drwer, but think it got chucked out (unusual for me as I don't like throwing possibly useful things away)
     
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  19. Ma-dotcom

    Ma-dotcom A Bonza Little Digger!

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    Don't you have a dog Sis? Such competition.
     
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  20. Bay Horse

    Bay Horse Can be a bit of a dark horse

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    Right on cue, I can hear a truck two roads away calling, "Anyyyy olddd scrap I-YINNNNN?"
     

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