Since early times, street children have been searching the Thames river bottom for anything worth something rather than being the “Oliver Twists” of their era with hands in somebody else’s pockets. The River has been giving up its treasure little by little over many centuries. During the 18th and 19th centuries, these London street boys were called MUDLARKS. In 1950, there was a movie made about mudlarks who worked their way into Buckingham Palace during Queen Victoria reign. Thee young mudlarks found coins, clay pipes, skeletons, children’s toys, which found their way to the bottom of the Thames over generations. The image at the top of this article is of a several coins which had been “harvested.” Some of these coins are not English which confirms the story that London has been an internal port for centuries. Some of the coins shown here are from the reign of William II at the end of the 1600′s. Others are sailors’ buttons and London transportation tokens. Children’s toys indicate that families traveling up and down the Thames had no better control of their children than families do today; children have been throwing toys overboard since time began only to rise again one day.
Today, the LONDON MUDLARKS are men with metal detectors. These guys are serious about their hobby and have the clothing, the lights, and the boots to aid in their search. London museums are filled with treasures found on the bottom of the Thames. My pewter lady Hilary Kashdan has been selling spoons dating from Tudor times in her stall on Portobello Road for years. I asked her where many of her small very old pewter pieces came from. The answer? THE THAMES.
Thomas Moore email: TMooreSr@me.com Telephone: 801.791.9918