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Published: 05 October 2019

By Andy Ross

The age of trust?

Recently two visitors to the studio were talking about how tweeds and knitting were sold...

Back in the day, entirely unsolicited apparently, mills in Shetland would scour Debretts, THE source of information about peerage, to find the names of people who might buy cloths or knitting. A parcel would be made up of the finest fabrics and this would be sent down to those Very Important People. The system operated on trust in that whatever was not wanted would be returned, and only then was an invoice raised for payment of the goods retained. 

Although this sounds implausible it is, in fact, entirely true. I have an original advertisement from a 1935 Punch magazine which is reproduced here. This shows how parcels were sent on approval with any unwanted items returned at the expense of the mill. Although this advert was obviously for the general public, appearing as it did in a magazine, the idea behind it is similar; anyone could get a parcel of goods on trust. Convenience for the buyer, and for the seller, the chance of increasing sales. 

I wonder if this system would work nowadays? What do you, dear readers, think?