500-Year-Old Dog Lives On

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A rare artifact of the middle ages finds new home on modern art and T-shirts inspired by manhole covers.

Streetware.org - a new manhole cover art and clothing brand - has rediscovered a lost history of a 500-year-old dog newly christened Edward from an old coal cover from the 1880s.

The dog was positioned as signage above the Hayward Brothers ironmongers in Southwark, London, which made manhole covers for nearly two hundred years, until the outbreak of the Second World War.

Jason Brooks, founder of Streetware, has been researching the humble manhole cover and making artwork from them for several years – his initial inspiration coming from playing marbles over them when he was a child.

“The discovery of Edward demonstrates how manhole covers are very special in the history of our industrial heritage,” says Jason who found Edward printed on a coal cover belonging to J. W. Cunningham of 196 Blackfriars Road, dated 1882. Jason was intrigued by the use of a dog where most covers have shapes and other designs on them, and set to explore this fascinating history. He has since made Edward the unofficial mascot of all manhole covers and has put him as pride of place in his growing manhole cover art and T-shirts range. The Edward coal cover is available in colour and on canvas and on T-shirts in all sizes and colours.

Edward is unique in being made from wood, the sign has his head licking out a pot, and dates from as early as the 16th century when it probably started out situated above a London inn. Familiar to most of the population who were unable to read at the time, signs were a good way of advertising and sending messages - for example a pig and whistle, three bells, or a red lion. The dog and pot was a medieval joke about a lazy wife, who was too lazy to wash the dishes and gave them to the dog to lick clean! Later on, above the ironmongers it represented that they sold iron dogs for the fire and coal scuttles.

To view Edward and Jason’s other manhole cover artwork, log on to Streetware.org.

About Streetware

Streetware.org, founded in 2006 by artist Jason Brooks, makes artwork from manhole covers on unique canvas frames, and produces a range of urban manhole cover themed T-shirts. Streetware is based in Brighton, UK and their work can be viewed and bought on Streetware.org. A London exhibition of Jason’s artwork is expected in the autumn of 2006.

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