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A haberdasher is a person who sells small articles for sewing, such as buttons, ribbons, zips, and other notions (in the United Kingdom) or a men's outfitter (American English). A haberdasher's shop or the items sold therein are called haberdashery.
Origin and use
The word appears in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Haberdashers were initially peddlers, sellers of small items such as needles and buttons. It should be noted that the word is thought to have no connection with an Old Norse word akin to the Icelandic haprtask, which means peddlers' wares or the sack in which the peddler carried them. If that had been the case, a haberdasher (in its hypothetical Scandinavian meaning) would be very close to a mercer (French). Since the word has no recorded use in Scandinavia, it is most likely derived from the Anglo-Norman hapertas, meaning small ware. A haberdasher would retail small wares, the goods of the peddler, while a mercer would specialize in "linens, silks, fustian, worsted piece-goods and bedding".
Saint Louis IX, King of France 1226–70, is the patron saint of French haberdashers. In Belgium and elsewhere in Continental Europe, Saint Nicholas remains their patron saint, while Saint Catherine was adopted by the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers in the City of London.
- William Adams – a 17th-century London haberdasher who founded Adams' Grammar School in 1656
- Robert Aske – a philanthropist and London Alderman
- William Baldwin – an actor who became interested in haberdashery on the set of Double Bang in 2001
- Captain James Cook RN FRS – the 18th-century British navigator and explorer, apprenticed to this job in his youth
- Daniel Defoe – the author of Robinson Crusoe
- Richard Goldthorpe – a Yorkshire based haberdasher and real estate owner
- John Graunt – one of the first demographers
- John Jarrold - Norwich retailer
- Jerome Knapp Junior – an English barrister and businessman
- Wayne Knight – an actor, e.g. "Newman" from Seinfeld
- Christopher Lloyd – an actor, e.g. "Dr. Emmett Brown" in the Back to the Future trilogy
- Joseph Merrick – "the Elephant Man", worked as a haberdasher's assistant before being a freak show act
- George Newnes – founder of the Tit-Bits newspaper and the popular The Strand Magazine, of Sherlock Holmes-fame
- Paavo Nurmi – a Finnish distance runner
- Charles Taze Russell – founder of the Bible Student Movement which evolved into Jehovah's Witnesses
- Harry S. Truman – President of the United States from 1945 to 1953
- Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, 1989: "A dealer in small articles appertaining to dress, as thread, tape, ribbons, etc.
- Collins Dictionary of the English Language (1979)
- "The British Library, The Canterbury Tales, Caxton's first edition". Molcat1.bl.uk. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
- Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, 1989: haberdash, n. "Connexion with mod.Icel. haprtask 'haversack' is not possible."
- "Online Etymology Dictionary". Etymonline.com. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
- Sutton, Anne F. (2005). The Mercery of London: Trade, Goods and People, 1130–1578, p.118. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0-7546-5331-5
- "Catholic Culture, St. Louis IX". Catholicculture.org. 2008-08-25. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
- "Patron Saints Index". 2heartsnetwork.org. 2011-02-16. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
- "Company HIstory". Haberdashers. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
- "Paavo Nurmen herrainvaateliike oli Mikonkadulla". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). 9 September 2006. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
- NOVA #1001