London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Street-Sellers of Hot Elder Wine.


THE sale of hot elder wine in the streets is of the trades which have been long established, but it is only within these or years that it has been carried on in its present form. It continues for about months in the winter.

Elder wine is made from the berries of the elder-tree. Elder syrup—also made from the


berries—was formerly famous in the north of England as a curative for colds, and was frequently taken, with a small admixture of rum, at bedtime. Some of the street-sellers make the wine themselves; the majority, however, buy it of the British wine makers. The berries must be gathered when fully ripe, and on a dry day. They are picked, measured, and put into a copper, gallons of water being added to every gallon of berries. They are then boiled till the berries are quite soft, when the liquor is strained and pressed from them through a strong hair sieve. The liquor thus expressed is again put into the copper, boiled an hour, skimmed, and placed in a tub along with a bread toast, on which yeast is spread thickly; it then stands days, and is afterwards put into a cask, a few cloves and crusted ginger being hung in a muslin bag from the bung-hole, so as to flavour the liquor. Sometimes this spicing is added afterwards, when the liquor is warmed. The berries are sold in the markets, principally in Covent-garden,—the price varying, according to the season, from to a gallon. Of all elder-wine makers the Jews are the best as regards the street commodity. The costermongers say they "have a secret;" a thing said frequently enough when superior skill is shown, and especially when, as in the case of the Jews' elder wine, better pennyworths are given. The Jews, I am told, add a small quantity of raspberry vinegar to their "elder," so as to give it a "sharp pleasant twang." The heat and pungency of the elder wine sold in the streets is increased by some street-sellers by means of whole black pepper and capsicums.

The apparatus in which the wine is now kept for sale in the streets is of copper or brass, and is sometimes "handsome." It is generally an urn of an oblong form, erected on a sort of pedestal, with the lid or top ornamented with brass mouldings, &c. plated taps give vent to the beverage. Orifices are contrived and are generally hidden, or partially hidden, with some ornament, which act as safety-valves, or, as man would have it, "chimneys." The interior of these urns holds or quarts of elder wine, which is surrounded with boiling water, and the water and wine are kept up to the boiling pitch by means of a charcoal fire at the foot of the vessel. Fruit of some kind is generally sold by the elder-wine men at their stand.

The elder wine urn is placed on a stand covered with an oil-cloth, or glasses being ranged about it. It is sold at a halfponny and a penny a glass; but there is "little difference in some elder wines," I was told, "between the penn'orths and the ha'porths." A wine glass of the "regular" size is a half-quartern, or the of a pint.

Along with each glass of hot elder wine is given a small piece of toasted bread. Some buyers steep this bread in the wine, and so imbibe the flavour. "It ain't no good as I know on," said an elder-wine seller, "but it's the fashion, and so people must have it." The purchasers of elder wine are the working classes—but not the better order of them—and the boys of the street. Some of these lads, I was told, were very choice and critical in their elder wines. Some will say: "It ain't such bad wine, but not the real spicy."—"The helder I thinks," said another, "is middlin', but somehow there's nothing but hotness for to taste."

Of these traders there are now perhaps in London. man counted up of his brethren whom he knew personally, or knew to be then "working elder," and he thought. that there might be as many more, but I am assured that is about the mark. The sellers of elder wine have been for the most part mechanics who have adopted the calling for the reasons I have often given. None of them, in the course of my inquiry, depended entirely upon the sale of the wine, but sold fruit in addition to it. All complained of the bad state of trade. man said, that or years back he had replenished the wine in a quart urn times a day, a jar of the wine being kept at the stall in readiness for that purpose. This amounted to glasses sold in the course of the day, and a receipt— reckoning each glass at a penny—of ; but probably not more than would be taken, as some would have halfpenny glasses. Now the same man rarely sells quarts in a day, except perhaps on a Saturday, and on wet days he sells none at all. The elder wine can be bought at almost any price at the wine makers, from to the quart. The charge in the public-houses is twice as high as in the streets, but the inn wine, I was told by a person familiar with the trade, contains spirit, and is more highly spiced.

A decent-looking middle-aged man who had been in a gentleman's service, but was disabled by an accident which crushed his hand, and who thereupon resorted to street-selling and had since continued in it, in different branches, from to years, gave me an account of his customers. He had not been acquainted with the elder-wine trade above or years when he bought an elder can for about among a cheap miscellaneous "lot" in Friday afternoon, and so he commenced:

It's a poor trade, sir," he said. "I don't suppose any of us make 10s. a week at it alone, but it's a good help to other things, and I do middling. I should say less than a 1s. a day was above the average profits of the trade. Say 5s. a week, for on wet days we can't sell at all. No one will stop to drink elder wine in the wet. They'll rather have a pennor'th of gin, or half a pint of beer with the chill off, under shelter. I sell sometimes to people that say they're teetotallers and ask if there's any spirit in my wine. I assure them there's not, just the juice of the berry. I start when I think the weather's cold enough, and keep at it as long as there's any demand. My customers are boys and poor people, and I sell more ha'porths than pennor'ths. I've heard poor women that's bought of me say it was the only wine they ever tasted. The boys are hard to please, but I won't put up with their nonsense. It's not once in fifty times that a girl of the town buys my wine. It's not strong enough for her, I fancy. A sharp frosty dry day suits me best. I may then sell three or four quarts. I don't make it, but buy it. It's a poor trade, and I think it gets worse every year, though I believe there's far fewer of us.

elder-wine stand in Tottenham-court-road cost, when new, , but that was or years ago. Calculating that persons clear a week for weeks, their profit being at least cent. per cent., the street outlay in this very British wine will be only , and the street-consumption of it in the course of the year gallons.

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 Title Page
 The Street-Folk: Of Wandering Tribes in General
 Of the Wandering Tribes of this Country
 Of the London Street-Folk
Of the Number of Costermongers and Other Street-Folk
Of the Number of Costermongers and Other Street-Folk
Of the Varieties of Street-Folk in General, and Costermongers in Particular
Of Costermongering Mechanics
Ancient Calling of Costermongers
Of the Obsolete Cries of the Costermongers
Of the Costermongers 'Economically' Considered
The London Street Markets on a Saturday Night
The Sunday Morning Markets
Habits and amusements of Costermongers
Gambling of Costermongers
'Vic Gallery'
The Politics of Costermongers.-- Policemen
Marriage and Concubinage of Costermongers
Religion of Costermongers
Of the Uneducated State of Costermongers
Language of Costermongers
Of the Nicknames of Costermongers
Of the Education of Costermongers' Children
The Literature of Costermongers
Of the Honesty of Costermongers
Of the Conveyances of the Costermongers and Other Street-Sellers
Of the 'Smithfield Races'
Of the Donkeys of the Costermongers
Of the Costermongers' Capital
Of the 'Slang' Weights and Measures
Of Half Profits
Of the Boys of the Costermongers, and their Bunts
Of the Juvenile Trading of the Costermongers
Of the Education of the 'Coster-Lads'
The Life of a Coster-Lad
Of the 'Penny Gaff'
Of the Coster-Girls
The Life of a Coster Girl
Of Costermongers and Thieves
Of the More Provident Costermongers
Of the Homes of the Costermongers
Of the Dress of the Costermongers
Once Try You'll Come Again
Of the Diet and Drink of Costermongers
Of the Cries, Rounds, and Days of Costermongers
Of the Costermongers on their Country Rounds
Of the Earnings of Costermongers
Of the Capital and Income of the Costermongers
Of the Providence and Improvidence of Costermongers
Of the Costermongers in Bad Weather and During the Cholera
Of the Costermongers' Raffles
Of the Markets and Trade Rights of the Costerongers, and of the Laws Affecting Them
Of the Removals of Costermongers From the Streets
Of the Tricks of Costermongers
Of the Street-Sellers of Fish
Of Sprat-Selling in the Streets
Of the Street-Sellers of Fruit and Vegetables
Of the Stationary Street-Sellers of Fish, Fruit, and Vegetables
Of the Street-Irish
Of the Street-Sellers of Game, Poultry (Live and Dead), Rabbits, Butter, Cheese, and Eggs
Of the Sellers of Trees, Shrubs, Flowers (Cut and In Pots), Roots, Seeds, and Branches
Street-Sellers of Green Stuff
Of the Street-Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Of the Street-Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Of the Street-Sellers of Pea-Soup and Hot Eels
Of the Experience of a Hot-Eel and Pea-Soup Man
Of the Street-Sellers of Pickled Whelks
Of the Customers, Etc., of Pickled Whelk-Sellers
Of the Street Sellers, and of the Preparation of Fried Fish
Of the Experience of a Fried Fish- Seller, and of the Class of Customers
Of the Preparation and Quantity of Sheep's Trotters, and of the Street-Sellers
Statements of Sheep's Trotter Women
Of the Street Trade in Baked Potatoes
Of 'Trotting,' or 'Hawking' Butchers
Of the Experience of a Hawking Butcher
Of the Street-Sellers of Ham-Sandwiches
Of the Experience of a Ham Sandwich- Seller
Of the Street-Sellers of Bread
Of the Street-Sellers of Hot Green Peas
Of the Experience of a Hot Green Pea Seller
Of Cats' and Dogs'--Meat Dealers
Of the Street-Sale of Drinkables
Of Coffee-Stall Keepers
Of the Street Sale of Ginger-Beer, Sherbet, Lemonade, &c
Of the Experience and Customers of A Ginger-Beer Seller
Of the Street-Sellers of Hot Elder Wine
Of the Street Sale of Peppermint-Water
Of Milk Selling in St. James's Park
Of the Street Sale of Milk
Of the Street-Sale of Curds and Whey
Of the Street-Sellers of Rice-Milk
Of Water-Carriers
Of the Street-Sellers of Pastry and Confectionary
Of Street Piemen
Of the Street-Sellers of Boiled Puddings
Of the Street-Sellers of Plum 'Duff' or Dough
Of the Street-Sellers of Cakes, Tarts, &c.
Of Other Cake-Sellers in the Streets
Of the Street-Sellers of Gingerbread- Nuts, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Hot-Cross Buns, and of Chelsea Buns
Of Muffin and Crumpet-Selling in the Streets
Of the Street Sale of Sweet-Stuff
Of the Customers of the Sweet-Stuff Street-Sellers
Of the Street-Sellers of Cough Drops and of Medical Confectionary
'Lohoch de farfara,' the Lohoch of Coltsfoot
Of the Street-Sellers of Ices and of Ice Creams
Of the Capital and Income of the Street-Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Capital, or Stock in Trade, of the Street- Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Income, or 'Takings,' of Street-Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, Literature, and the Fine Arts
Of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, &c.
Of the Former and Present Street- Patterers
Of the Habits, Opinions, Morals, and Religion of Patterers Generally
Of the Publishers and authors of Street-Literature
Of Long Song-Sellers
Of Running Patterers
Experience of a Running Patterer
Of the Recent Experience of a Running Patterer
Of the Chaunters
Of the Experience of a Chaunter
Of the Death and Fire Hunters
Of the Sellers of Second Editions
Of the Standing Patterers
Experience of a Standing Patterer
Of Political Litanies, Dialogues, etc.
Of 'Cocks,' Etc.
Of 'Strawing'
Of the Sham indecent Street-Trade
Of Religious Tract Sellers
Of a Benefit Society of Patterers
Of the Abodes, Tricks, Marriage, Character, and Characteristics of the Different Grades of Patterers
Of the Low Lodging-Houses of London
Of the Filth, Dishonesty, and Immorality of Low Lodging-Houses
Of the Children in Low Lodging- Houses
Of the Low Lodging-Houses Throughout the Country
Of the Street Stationers, and the Street Card-Sellers
Of the Seller of the Penny Short-Hand Cards
The Lecture
'I perish with hunger'
Of the Sellers of Race Cards and Lists
Of the Street-Sellers of Gelatine, of Engraved, and of Playing Cards, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Stationery
Of the Experience of a Street- Stationer
Of a 'Reduced' Gentlewoman, and a 'Reduced' Tradesman, as Street-Sellers of Stationery
Of the Street-Sale of Memorandum- Books and Almanacks
Of the Street-Sale of Pocket-Books and Diaries
Of the Street-Sellers of Songs
Of the Street 'Pinners-up,' or Wall Song-Sellers
Of Ancient and Modern Street Ballad Minstrelsy
Of Street 'Ballads on a Subject'
Of the Street Poets and Authors
Of the Experience of a Street Author, or Poet
Of the Street-Sellers of Broad-Sheets
Of the 'Gallows' Literature of the Streets
Of the Street-Sellers of Conundrums
Of the Street-Sellers of Comic Exhibitions, Magical Delusions, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Play-Bills
Of the Street-Sellers of Periodicals, Pamphlets, Tracts, Books, Etc.
Of the Street-Sale of Back Numbers
Of the Sale of Waste Newspapers at Billingsgate
Of the Sale of Periodicals on the Steam- Boats and Steam-Boat Piers
Of the Sale of Newspapers, Books, &c., at the Railway Stations
Of the Street Booksellers
Of the Character of Books of the Street-Sale
Of the Experience of a Street Book- Seller
Of Street Book-Auctioneers
Of the Street-Sale of Song-Books, and of Children's Books
Of the Street-Sellers of Account-Books
Of the Street-Sellers of Guide-Books, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Fine Arts
Of Street Art
Of the Street-Sellers of Engravings, Etc., in Umbrellas, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Pictures in Frames
Of the Street-Sellers of Manuscript and Other Music
Of the Capital and Income of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, Literature, and the Fine Arts
Capital or Value of the Stock-in-Trade of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, Literature and the Fine Arts
Income, or Average Annual 'Takings,' of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, Literature, and the Fine Arts
An Epitome of the Pattering Class
Of the 'Screevers,' or Writers of Begging-Letters and Petitions
'God Save the Queen'
Of the Probable Means of Reformation
Of the Street-Sellers of Manufactured Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Manufactured Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Manufactured Articles in Metal
Of the Cheap Johns, or Street Han- Sellers
'The Original Cheap John'
The Crippled Street-Seller of Nut- Meg-Graters
Of the Swag-Shops of the Metropolis
Shopkeepers and Dealers Supplied with the Following Articles --
Of the Life of a Cheap-John
The Street-Sellers of Cutlery
Of the Blind Street-Sellers of Tailors' Needles, etc.
The Public-House Hawkers of Metal Spoons, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Jewellery
Of the Pedlar-Jewellers
Of the Street-Sellers of Card-Counters, Medals, Etc.
The Construction is of Iron and of Glass, 1848 Feet Long. about Half is 456 Wide. the Remainder 408 Feet Wide, and 66 Feet High; Site, Upwards of 20 acres. Josh. Paxton, archt.
Of the Street-Sellers of Rings and Sovereigns For Wagers
Of the Street-Sellers of Children's Gilt Watches
Of the Street-Sellers of Tinware
Of the Life of a Tin-Ware Seller
Of the Street-Sellers of Dog-Collars
Of the Life of a Street-Seller of Dog- Collars
Of the Street-Sellers of Tools
Of the Beggar Street-Sellers
Pike's Patent Cotton. 120 Yards
'The Lace-Makers' Appeal'
'ALLEN, Printer, Long-row, Nottingham'
Of the 'House of Lords,' a Street-Seller's Defunct Club
Of the Street-Sellers of Crockery and Glass-Wares
Of the 'Swag,' Crockery, and Glass Shops
Of the Street-Sellers of Spar and China Ornaments, and of Stone Fruit
Of the Street-Sellers of Textile Fabrics
Of the Haberdashery Swag-Shops
Of Hawkers, Pedlars, and Petty Chapmen
Of the Packmen, or Hawkers of Soft Wares
Statement of a Packman
Of the Tally Packman
Of the 'Duffers' or Hawkers of Pretended Smuggled Goods
Of the Street-Sellers of 'Small-Ware,' or Tape, Cotton, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Lace
Of the Street-Sellers of Japanned Table- Covers
Of the Street-Sellers of Braces, Belts, Hose, Trowser-Straps, and Waistcoats
Of the Street-Sellers of Boot and Stay- Laces, &c.
Of a Blind Female Seller of 'Small-Wares'
The Blind Street-Seller of Boot-Laces
Of the Life of a Blind Boot-Lace Seller
Of the Low Lodging-Houses
Statement of a Young Pickpocket
Statement of a Prostitute
Statement of a Beggar
Meeting of Thieves
Of the Country Lodging-Houses
Of the Street-Sellers of Chemical Articles of Manufacture
Of the Street-Sellers of Blacking, Black Lead, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of French Polish
Of the Street-Sellers of Grease-Removing Compositions
Of the Street-Sellers of Corn-Salve
Of the Street-Sellers of Glass and China Cement, and of Razor Paste
Of the Street-Seller of Crackers and Detonating Balls
Of the Street-Sellers of Lucifer-Matches
Of the Street-Sellers of Cigar Lights, or Fuzees
Of the Street-Sellers of Gutta-Percha Heads
Of the Street-Sellers of Fly-Papers and Beetle-Wafers
Of the Street-Sellers of Miscellaneous Manufactured Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Walking-Sticks
Of the Street-Sellers of Whips, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Pipes, and of Snuff and Tobacco Boxes
Of the Street-Sellers of Cigars
Of the Street-Sellers of Sponge
Of the Street-Sellers of Wash-Leathers
Of the Street-Sellers of Spectacles and Eye-Glasses
Of the Street-Sellers of Dolls
Of the 'Swag-Barrowmen,' and 'Lot- Sellers'
Of the Street-Sellers of Roulette Boxes
Of the Street-Sellers of Poison For Rats
Of the Street-Sellers of Rhubarb and Spice
Of the Hawking of Tea
Of the Women Street-Sellers
Of the Children Street-Sellers of London