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By N.Y.) Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York

Highlights of the Untermyer selection of English and continental ornamental arts.

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Clothing was mentioned but only within the overall framework of the introduction of the separation of men and women and the segregation of prisoners one from another. Along with the introduction of the ‘silent’ system – whereby prisoners were not permitted to talk to each other since redemption was only considered possible through the silent contemplation of their sins – came reforms such as the abolition of fettering prisoners in irons. 32 There had been an attempt to introduce a prison uniform as early as 1779, and then again in 1823.

The reformers of the organisation of prison labour in these American prisons took, as their model, the factory system in industrial Britain. 62 from near naked to uniforms 25 The comparative leniency of the 1790 Prison Reform Act was interpreted differently at Newgate Prison in New York, following a law passed by the State legislature in 1796. 63 This clown-type clothing that was introduced in Newgate Prison in 1796 was already in use by American chain gangs at this time. It was similar to the particoloured clothing of transportees in Australia in the early nineteenth century and parti-coloured clothing worn by convicts in London prisons later in the 1850s.

35 In 1842 prison warders’ distinctive clothing was not dissimilar to police uniforms. This was no coincidence since the emergence of the uniformed police force first occurred in early nineteenth-century Britain in the same period as the advent of the modern prison. Officers’ uniforms in a number of institutions from hospitals to schools, the military and the police force embodied the increasing power invested in their authority. One of the distinguishing marks of prison warders’ clothing from that worn by the subjected was the shininess of the ‘cartouche’ or decorated key box.

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