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Historical Context in David Copperfield

Historical Context Examples in David Copperfield:

Chapter 1 - I Am Born

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"Rookery..."   (Chapter 1 - I Am Born)

It was traditional, for identification purposes, to give your home a name and often one associated with its location. Rookery refers to the rooks, or type of crows, that inhabited the property.

"quoting the second sentiment of the pincushion in the drawer upstairs..."   (Chapter 1 - I Am Born)

Pincushions sent as baby gifts were often decorated with messages and blessings to mark the birth of the baby. (See the previous annotation for "prophetic pins.")

"prophetic pins..."   (Chapter 1 - I Am Born)

Until the invention of the safety pin in the late 1800s, a baby's clothing was secured with regular sewing pins. A pincushion filled with sewing pins was a popular gift to give to a new mother. Pins weren't usually given, however, until after the baby's birth, in accordance with the superstitious belief that pins increased the pain of labor. 

"five shillings..."   (Chapter 1 - I Am Born)

Five shillings is the equivalent of one pound; $1.63 today, approximately $80 in the 1800s. 

"half-a-crown..."   (Chapter 1 - I Am Born)

Half-a-crown is a coin worth 2.5 shillings (5 shillings to a pound), 81 cents today. The value in the 1800s would be approximately $40.

"two pounds..."   (Chapter 1 - I Am Born)

Two British pounds in the 1800s would have the approximate value of 100 pounds today, $163.00.

"advertised for sale, in the newspapers, at the low price of fifteen guineas. Whether sea-going people were short of money about that time, or were short of faith and preferred cork jackets..."   (Chapter 1 - I Am Born)

During the Middle Ages, a legend developed that a caul would bring good luck and protect anyone who possessed it, especially from drowning. Cauls were sold for large sums of money, often to sailors who valued them highly.

Fifteen guineas: today, fifteen guineas would be approximately $22.50.  

"Here is our pew in the church...."   (Chapter 2 - I Observe)

It was traditional for well-known families to have their own row of seats (a pew) in church services.

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