Pat Nolan Blog

The Vintner’s 9-point Guide

This list of dos and don’ts for the publican was published in 1825 by William Phipps, the first Secretary to the Fair Trading Vintners' Society and Asylum of the City of Dublin. It’s relevant still today.


As well for the vintner

As for

The brewer, distiller, merchant



The following Rules I would particularly recommend to the serious consideration of all persons in trade:

  1. Endeavour to be perfect in the calling you are engaged in, and be assiduous in every part thereof. Industry being the natural means of acquiring wealth, honour and reputation; as idleness is of poverty, shame and disgrace.
  2. Lay a good foundation in regard to principle. Be sure not willfully to overreach or deceive your neighbour, but keep always in your eye the golden rule of doing as you would be done unto.
  3. Be strict in discharging all legal debts. Do not evade your creditor by any shuffling acts, in giving notes under your hand only to defer payment; but if you have it in your power, discharge all debts when they become due. Above all when you are straitened for want of money, be cautious of taking it up at a high interest, this has been the ruin of many, therefore avoid it.
  4. Endeavour to be as much in your shop or warehouse, or in whatever place your business properly lies, as possibly you can; leave it not to servants to transact, for customers will not regard them as yourself, they generally think they shall not be so well served; besides mistakes may arise by the negligence or inexperience of servants, and therefore your presence will prevent, probably, the loss of a good customer. Be complaisant to the MEANEST aswellas the GREATEST. You are as much obliged to use good manners, for a farthing as a pound, the one demands it from you as well as the other.
  5. Be not too talkative, but speak as much as is necessary to recommend your goods and always observe to keep within the rules of decency. If customers slight your goods and undervalue them, endeavour to convince them of their mistake, if you can, but not affront them; do not be pert in your answers, but with patience hear and with meekness reply, for if you affront in a small matter it may probably hinder you from a future good customer. They may think you are dear in the articles they want, but by going from one Vintner to another may find it not so, and probably may return again; but if you behave rude and affronting, there is no hope either of returning, or their future custom.
  6. Take great care in keeping your accounts well; enter everything necessary in your books with neatness and exactness; often state your accounts and examine whether you gain or lose; and carefully survey your stock and inspect into every particular of your affairs.
  7. Take care as much as you can whom you trust; neither take nor give long credit, but, at the farthest, annually settle your accounts; deal at the fountain head for as many articles as you can, and if it lies in your power, for ready money; this method you will find to be the most profitable inthe end. Endeavour to keep up a proper assortment in your way, but not overstock yourself; aim not at making a great figure in your shop or warehouse in unnecessary ornaments, but let them be neat and useful, too great an appearance may rather prevent than engage customers; make your business your pleasure, and other entertainments will only appear necessary for relaxation therefrom.
  8. Strive to maintain a fair character in the world, that will be the best means for advancing your credit; giving you the most flourishing trade, and enlarging your fortune; condescendto no mean action, but add a lustre to trade by keeping up to the dignity of your nature.


Phipps, William. The Vintner’s Guide. London: Forgotten Books. (original work published 1825)

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