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  • prices for prostitution

    Hi there,
    I know that this has been covered in other threads, but I'm b***ered if I can find the posts again...

    I just wanted to find the source for the fourpence encounter with prostitutes in our geographical and temporal range of interest...I was just (to my shame) browsing through that Monaghan book (JtR's Secret Confession) and noting that the Secret Life stated that he paid women 5, 10 shillings--sometimes up to 10 and 20 pounds. Clearly, this top range related to higher class (class in the vernacular, not necessarily higher social class) and younger women in rooms and houses offering particular services...but, even looking at the lower end, the difference between 4d and 5 shillings seems to me to be a heck of a chasm.

    So, can anyone please point me to a reference that states the sum that our ladies would have charged? It would be most appreciated; I am going to be asked about it in my MPhil viva, I am sure, and I am woefully ill-prepared! Thanks, muchly, as usual.
    best,

    claire

  • #2
    http://www.casebook.org/victims/polly.html I believe Donald Rumbelow was the one who discovered the prices for sexual services but I cannot remeber the book just now. It is mentioned in the above link. Hope this helps, Dave
    We are all born cute as a button and dumb as rocks. We grow out of cute fast!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by claire View Post
      I was just (to my shame) browsing through that Monaghan book (JtR's Secret Confession) and noting that the Secret Life stated that he paid women 5, 10 shillings--sometimes up to 10 and 20 pounds.
      There's also the odd story of a man giving a woman in Hanbury Street "two brass medals, or bright farthings, as half sovereigns" on the morning of Chapman's murder:
      http://www.casebook.org/press_report.../18880911.html

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      • #4
        Thanks for these, both of you; much appreciated
        best,

        claire

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        • #5
          I'm still trying to figure out what b***ered means. I have a feeling this is another word that we don't use here across the pond.

          c.d.

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          • #6
            c.d...yes, not an Across The Pond term, I think. try this...*ugger**
            best,

            claire

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            • #7
              Originally posted by claire View Post
              c.d...yes, not an Across The Pond term, I think. try this...*ugger**
              Thank you, Claire. You English are way ahead of us in colorful expressions.

              c.d.

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              • #8
                Hello you all!

                Well, you may have a clue, that what a f***k she is talking about...

                But me having Finnish as a first language cannot even guess....

                All the best
                Jukka
                "When I know all about everything, I am old. And it's a very, very long way to go!"

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                • #9
                  Jukka, I am more intrigued as to what f***k stands for? Something a little rude in Suomi, perhaps?? Naffed if I know!

                  And, while I'm here--if anyone else has some references for me, that would be great. Just thinking that, if your rent was four and six a week, at 4d a time, that's 13 or 14 punters before you even eat or drink. Looking at doing, then, at least 30+ punters in a week before body loses sight of soul.

                  Off topic (and I won't stay long on it, or Gareth will come on to tell me off!), I suppose it would explain why MJK would entertain the thought of punters in her room, as they would doubtless pay rather more for it.
                  best,

                  claire

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hello claire!

                    Well, v***u in Finnish is practically, what the f***k is in English...

                    All right, that's enough about rude words, so;

                    Your thought about MJK preferring punters is quite good!

                    All the best
                    Jukka
                    "When I know all about everything, I am old. And it's a very, very long way to go!"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The price of 4d that is bandied about is also the price of a lodging house bed for the night. Rumbelow also mentioned the three penny knee-trembler, which equals the price of a large glass of gin. He also said that some even offered sexual favours for a stale loaf of bread.

                      Rumbelow's main point was that these women sold themselves for what they needed. This is still true today.

                      In modern London (or New York), one can pay 1000 an hour for the company of a lady. But one can also get sex for a rock or two of crack. In developing countries there are women that sell their bodies for food. It all comes down to what punters are willing to pay for pleasure and what prostitutes are willing to accept as payment.

                      When Emily Holland ran into her friend, Polly Nichols, at the corner of Whitechapel Road and Osborn St. about an hour before her death, she asked Nichols to come back to her room with her. Polly appeared drunk and said that she had made her doss money three times but spent it on drink. Polly assured Emily that she would be back soon with it and trundled off. I assume she charged the going rate and turned three tricks earlier, and was looking for her fourth when she met the man who murdered her.

                      All the best,

                      Robert

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                      • #12
                        Yup, Robert...those are my thoughts. All I need now is to find a direct reference to it!!
                        best,

                        claire

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Septic Blue View Post
                          Originally posted by lynn cates View Post
                          The price of a trick was roughly the same as a large glass of gin--3 or 4d.
                          'Ripperlore', for which there is no historical basis. None, whatsoever!
                          Originally posted by Septic Blue View Post
                          Originally posted by lynn cates View Post
                          Why do you call it lore?

                          ... perhaps you referred to the price charged by the ladies?
                          Indeed, I did! For it is just that: 'Ripperlore'!

                          And this, I am certain, is its source:



                          "Those women there", said our guide, "will sell themselves for thru'pence, or tu'pence, or a loaf of stale bread".

                          "The People of the Abyss", by Jack London (Chapter 6)

                          Donald Rumbelow asserts three-to-four nights per week (i.e. as often as he hosts a tour), that "you could buy an 'East End' prostitute, in 1888, for three pennies, two pennies, or a loaf of stale bread". He then goes on to proclaim that "the price was 'fixed' (i.e. capped) at three pennies, as that was the price of a tall glass of gin".

                          In the absence of any other known references, 'Ripperology' has seized upon Jack London's very specific pronouncement, regarding a very specific group of down-trodden souls, and established a convention that all 'East End' prostitutes typically charged ~ 2d-to-4d, in 1888.

                          I am quite certain that at the height of desperation, the likes of Annie Chapman would have settled for absolutely anything she could get, in return for a 'wank', in some vermin-infested, sludge-filled alley.

                          But I am just as certain that on a good night, having already procured a meal and bed for the evening, the likes of Frances Coles, when propositioned by an especially drunk and lustful sailor, would have demanded - and commanded - a 'half-crown' (i.e. 'two-and-six': 2s/6d), in return for an 'all-nighter', in some reasonably 'comfortable' accommodation.
                          Originally posted by Septic Blue View Post
                          Originally posted by lynn cates View Post
                          Donald seems a good chap to quote.
                          I'm sure Donald Rumbelow is many things: A somewhat sensationalist* tour-guide, being one of them. But, a demographer of Victorian London, he is not!

                          * He also claims that the Parish Church of St. Botolph without Aldgate was known, in 1888, as the "Prostitutes' Church". That too, is 'Ripperlore'!

                          Originally posted by lynn cates View Post
                          Are you saying that 3-4d was not the usual fee?
                          I am saying firstly and fore mostly that we do not know what these women charged for their 'services'.

                          I am also saying that with a very wide range of 'services' on offer, there would invariably have been an accordant range of 'going rates'.
                          Originally posted by Septic Blue View Post


                          --- Click the Above 'Thumbnail' to View the Applicable Portion of an 'A&E Biography' Documentary ---

                          2:36 / 9:53

                          Narrator: "In contrast, the 'East End'; where 900,000 impoverished people lived in cramped, filthy slums, ..."

                          This being said as a slide show depicts a photograph ("The Crawlers"; c. 1877) of a woman cradling a baby, on the steps of the Parish Workhouse of St. Giles in the Fields & St. George Bloomsbury, Short's Gardens, Endell Street, Parish of St. Giles in the Fields a decidedly 'West End' location.

                          "900,000 impoverished people" ?????????

                          From the first of Charles Booth's three surveys

                          "Labour and Life of the People: London", Williams & Norgate, 1889-1891

                          East London (Less Hackney):

                          - Total Population (1891 Census): 705,114
                          - Total Population (Charles Booth 1889 Estimate): 708,675

                          - Estimated Percentage; Class 'A' ('vicious' (i.e. vice-ridden), 'semi-criminal'): 1.33%
                          - Estimated Percentage; Class 'B' ('very poor'): 11.85%
                          - Estimated Percentage; Class 'C' ('poor' - irregular income): 9.00%
                          - Estimated Percentage; Class 'D' ('poor' - regular but inadequate income): 15.83%

                          - Estimated Percentage; Below the 'Line of Poverty': 38.00%

                          - Estimated Percentage; Class 'E' ('above the line of poverty' - regular 'standard' income): 44.31%
                          - Estimated Percentage; Class 'F' ('highly skilled labour'): 11.40%
                          - Estimated Percentage; Class 'G' ('lower middle-class'): 4.54%
                          - Estimated Percentage; Class 'H' ('upper middle-class'): 1.75%

                          - Estimated Percentage; Above the 'Line of Poverty': 62.00%

                          Booth's data would suggest that London's 'East End', in 1888, was inhabited by ~710,000 persons, of whom ~270,000 were "impoverished", and of whom ~95,000 "lived in cramped, filthy slums".

                          Those numbers are indeed alarming; but each is a 'far-cry' from being "900,000".

                          3:03 / 9:53

                          Martin Fido: "The 'East End' at the end of the 1880's an area where at any time, almost any woman might have to prostitute herself - as the only way to feed her children."

                          This being said as a slide show depicts a photograph ("Evicted"; from George R. Sims's "Living London") of an eviction scene, that I believe occurred in either Southwark or Bermondsey.

                          "an area where at any time, almost any woman might have to prostitute herself" ?????????

                          That is unadulterated bullshit!

                          3:45 / 9:53

                          Donald Rumbelow: "You could buy one of these women for three pennies, or two pennies, or a loaf of stale bread. The price of three pennies was fixed, because that was what the women would pay for a large glass of gin."

                          I have taken Rumbelow's tour, on three separate occasions. Each time, the above statement was made verbatim.

                          Donald Rumbelow has seized upon the proclamations of Jack London's tour-guide, regarding a very specific group of down-trodden 'dollymops'. In so doing, he has perpetuated a myth.

                          I believe we can rest assured that prostitutes of London's 'East End', in 1888, came in all 'shapes-and-sizes' and offered a multitude of 'services', for which there was an accordant range of 'going rates'.

                          As for the parameters of that 'range': We plainly and simply do not know what they were!

                          The conventional wisdoms of 'Ripperology' are in dire need of an 'overhaul'!

                          That should start with the realization that the likes of Martin Fido, Donald Rumbelow, et al are not infallible!
                          .........

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                          • #14
                            Thanks, SB...I think you're right; there wasn't a particular convention, and what a punter might pay for 2 minutes in the corner of a yard with some old boiler would be very different to the sum charged by younger ladies with better services on offer. Clearly, price capping doesn't seem congruous with an unregulated (informally regulated) industry like prostitution...and clearly, on the basis of My Secret Life, prices were much higher. And, of course, there is the discrepancy between the 'lores' of a tuppenny upright, a thrupenny kneetrembler, the fourpenny doss, and so on and so forth. The relatively high prices quoted in sources other than Jack London's are another explanatory factor around McCarthy's seeming tolerance of MJK's rent arrears...if she could get 5 shillings for one chappy, then clearing those arrears wouldn't take long at all...so perhaps it's not so screwy that he did put up with the arrears, if he knew (which he surely would) the possible going rates.

                            Cheers.
                            best,

                            claire

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Odd this should be mentioned as earlier I asked questions about 1888 exchange rates and 1888 prices as part of my ripper research.
                              Today I found some 'working girls' and enquired about prices, just to get an idea of what such services nowadays would cost, especially with regard to modern booze etc. prices.

                              The ladies said (and bear in mind that I live in a tiny town in the midlands-Grantham) that all the usual stuff that lovers do followed by sex in a nice room would cost 80 pounds. But they said that their less reputable counterparts, who would engage in such matters outside would ask for about 20 or 30 pounds.

                              Now my understanding is that 1888 toms would do 'it' for the cost of a meal or a bed for the night. Well, 20 or 30 quid would only just pay for a bed but it would pay for a great many meals, wouldn't it?

                              Interesting stuff, eh?

                              Doris
                              ..."(this is my literary discovery and is copyright protected)"...

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