Among Living Historians, James Townsend and Son is the mecca for buying period correct clothing and accessories. When Tom and I made our quick trip back to Ohio in June, we stopped each direction in Pierceton, Indiana to visit the actual James Townsend and Son store.
James Townsend and Son is a manufacturer and retailer of quality reproduction 18th and early 19th Century clothing and personal accessories. They service the living history community, historic sites, museums, and theatrical, motion picture, and television production companies. They have a very large internet presence, from their excellent web site to their Youtube channel that shows you, step by step, how to do things. Some people like to watch shows on the Food Channel. I like to watch youtube videos on how to cook foods 18th century style.
One of the best things about James Townsend and Son is their research. When you buy period clothing from them, you know it is accurate. When you follow a recipe, you know they have tried it out. Although it is a business, when we stopped by there and I considered buying some of their cooking DVDs, the person working the front room encouraged me to watch them free on Youtube instead.
The catalog for James Townsend and Son is extensive, including a section on how to get started in living history. They have clothing for 1750’s civilians, Revolutionary War Continental soldiers, men and women of the 1790’s, and men and women of the 1810’s. They have accessories appropriate for different time periods including shaving equipment, cooking pots, spice containers, pie plates, buttons, buckles, scissors, and eye glasses. If you wanted to live your life as a person from the 18th century, you could find what you need at James Townsend and Son.
The actual physical store was unimpressive. Pierceton is a very small town along US-30. James Townsend and Son was the biggest thing in town. But the front room is pretty small with only a small selection of the things they sell on display. Tom had some specific things he wanted to buy, and when he asked for them, the shopkeeper asked if he wanted to come in the back. Tom eagerly agreed and came back telling me about three huge buildings full of things behind the small storefront. This means that James Townsend pretty much takes up the entire west side of downtown Pierceton.
We enjoyed our visit to the shop but, even more, we have enjoyed learning how people lived in the 18th century with the help of James Townsend and Son. If you are interested in learning more about living history, James Townsend and Son also maintains a web site that lists living history events so you can visit one near you. Living historians love to talk to visitors about what they know and you might find yourself enjoying a new hobby.