Rag and bone
Rag-and-bone collectors date from the early 19th century and may have been the first recyclers of waste material. Rags and old, torn clothing were sold to manufacturers of shoddy, which was a form of cheap cloth, while bones and left over food were sold to glue manufacturers. Their cry used to be an almost unintelligible ‘rag ‘n bone’ to which ‘any old iron’ was frequently added. A Rag-and-bone collector was also known as a ‘totter’ which derives from old, early 19th century, British slang ‘tot’, meaning bone. Rag-and-bone collectors or totters were a once familiar sight on British streets, but are now virtually extinct, having been replaced by scrap merchants and, of course, industrialised waste recycling.