Working Stiffs

Some of the jobs held by people living in the 18th century have disappeared. Here's a look at a few interesting but obsolete careers from the time of Marie Antoinette:

Gutter leaper: These thick-calved and sure-footed men were hired to carry patrons piggy-back style across stinking streets. Most of the boulevards in Paris were dirty and littered with waste. Oftentimes, the streets would fill up with run-off water from kitchens or chamber pots. Gutter leapers would carry men and women, those with the right coinage and wishing to spare their shoes, from one side of the street to the other.

Street Porter:  A street porter could be hired to carry heavy cargo from one point to another.

Postillion: A postilion was the person who worked on long distance coaches. It was his duty to manage and tend to the horses.

Hewer: A miner who cut coal or stone.

Cadger: A person who haggled or bargained, like a street vendor or peddler.

Higgler:  A person who moves about on foot selling diary, poultry and small game.

Hobbler: A person who was employed to tow a boat on the rivers or canals.

Hurdy Gurdy Player:  A hurdy gurdy was a stringed musical instrument that looked like a violin.  It was played by cranking a wheel which would move against the strings.

Magic Lantern Operator:  Magic lanterns were candle-lit boxes with painted slides of various scenes, like landscapes of exotic places.  A magic lantern operator would tote the box around the city and allow people a look at the scenes for a fee.


  1. Fascinating facts! Thank you so much for digging that up, I just loved it!!!!


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