Monday, 14 June 2010

Obsolete Professions

I've been researching obsolete professions. The context being that as an evolving world some industries do, by necessity, die. In our modern world we clutch at them, desperate to make sure no one's livelihood is in dispute. But in the end things change, professions and professionals need to evolve and change with it.

Here are a few I found that fascinate. There were some listed in The great Cat Massacre - and other episodes in French Cultural history, that we have not just lost the skill, but what the skill even was.

Belleyetere - Bellfounder.
Burneman - Carrier of barm or water for brewers.
Chaloner - Dealer in shalloon, a material made in Chƒlons.
Cissor - Tailor (not lost, but an interesting word association)
Combere - Woolcomber
Dubbere - Cloth dubber, i.e., one who raises the nap of cloth.
Dudder - Probably a maker of coarse cloaks.
Daunsel - Gentleman in waiting, groom or squire.
Dysshere - Probably a ditcher, or in some cases a disher.
Frereman - Servant of the Friars.
Furber (Furbour) - Furbisher of armour.
Hetheleder - Provider of heather for fuel.
Latouner - Worker in latten, a metal resembling brass.
Palmer - A Pilgrim, one who had been, or pretended to have been, to the Holy Land.
Pannebeter - Pan-hammerer, or perhaps clothdriver.
Pardoner - One licensed to sell Papal Indulgences.
Pattenmaker - Maker of iron-rimmed pattens for footwear.
Pinder - Keeper of the Pound or Pinfold.
Seinter - Girdlemaker.
Sleymaker - Maker of instruments to part threads in weaving.
Spurrier - Spurmaker.
Vaginarius, Sheather - Scabbard maker. (another interesting word association)
Whittawer - Preparer of white leather.
Blockmaker - One who crafted pulleys
Whitesmith - Tinsmith; or one who finishes & polishes after the Smith

This list was adapted from Olive Tree Genealogy

What it makes me wonder is what professions will become obsolete in the future? Obviously those who serviced typewriters have now moved onto other industries. I know the makers of clay pipes are nearly all gone due to the perfidy of PVC.
I admit to sometimes walking in the city and looking around at the businesses which would fail spectacularly if my spending habits were typical of the majority. Gone are the jewellers, the perfumeries, bags and shoes. Female fripperies are history, hairdressers are in short supply, sports equipment, obsolete.

On the up side, every second shop is a bookstore.

What business are you in? Will it still be around in a low energy/resource future? Will it be able to evolve? Are you part of the evolution?

4 comments:

knutty knitter said...

Knitter/patchworker/craft teacher/artist. I keep hoping I'll come into fashion and get proper work before I retire but I'm not holding my breath.

viv in nz

daharja said...

Every second shop is a bookstore - but more and more of them are huge mega ultra chainstores, not owned by families, where the workers are paid peanuts.

And the books are made in China.

I can't help wishing we could revive local publishing companies and individual bookstores around the world again.

In the meanwhile, I'll keep going to the library.

Meg said...

I'm a librarian (school library media specialist, to be exact). While I'm pretty darn sure we won't become extinct, I do realize that we'll need to evolve in order to keep up with eBooks and virtual libraries. *sigh*

Great blog, by the way! :-)

Rachel said...

I work as a graphic designer and that kind of work tends to dry up whenever the economy slows down - even though it's important to be able to communicate your message clearly, when there's no money around people tend to do it themselves inhouse.

I think there's a place still for my skills and expertise in a future world, but I don't know if it would remain an independant job description, it may become 'merged' with others.