London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Street Booksellers.


THE course of my inquiry now leads me to consider of the oldest, and certainly not least important of the street traffics—that of the book-stalls. Of these there are now about in the London streets, but in this number I include only those which are street-stalls. Many book-stalls, as in such a locality as the London-road, are appendages to shops, being merely a display of wares outside the bookseller's premises; and with these I do not now intend to deal.

The men in this trade I found generally to be intelligent. They have been, for the most part, engaged in some minor department of the bookselling or newspaper trade, in the regular way, and are unconnected with the street-sellers in other lines, of whose pursuits, habits, and characters, they seem to know nothing.

The street book-stalls are most frequent in the thoroughfares which are well-frequented, but which, as man in the trade expressed himself, are not so "shoppy" as others—such as the City-road, the New-road, and the Old Kent-road. "If there's what you might call a recess," observed another street bookstall- keeper, " the place for us; and you'll often see us along with flower-stands and pinners-up." The stalls themselves do not present any very smart appearance; they are usually of plain deal. If the stock of books be sufficiently ample, they are disposed on the surface of the stall, "fronts up," as I heard it described, with the titles, when lettered on the back, like as they are presented in a library. If the "front" be unlettered, as is often the case with the older books, a piece of paper is attached, and on it is inscribed the title and the price. Sometimes the description is exceeding curt, as, "Poetry," "French," "Religious," "Latin" (I saw an odd volume, in Spanish, of Don Quixote, marked "Latin," but it was at a shop-seller's stall,) "Pamphlets," and such like; or where it seems to have been thought necessary to give a somewhat fuller appellation, such titles are written out as "Locke's Understanding," "Watts's Mind," or "Pope's Rape." If the stock be rather scant, the side of the book is then shown, and is either covered with white paper, on which the title and price are written, or "brushed," or else a piece of paper is attached, with the necessary announcement.

Sometimes these announcements are striking enough, as where a number of works of the same size have been bound together (which used to be the case, I am told, more frequently than it is now); or where there has been a series of stories in volume. such announcement was, "Smollett's Peregrine Pickle Captain Kyd Pirate Prairie Rob of the Bowl Bamfyeld Moore Carew " Alongside this miscellaneous volume was, "Wilberforce's Practical View of Christianity, ;" "Fenelon's Aventures de Télémaque, plates, ;" "Arres, de Predestinatione, " (the last-mentioned work, which, at the glance, seems as if it were an odd mixture of French and Latin, was a Latin quarto); "Coronis ad Collationem Hagiensem, &c. &c., Gulielmo Amesio." Another work, on another stall, had the following description: "Lord Mount Edgecumbe's Opera What is Currency Watts's Scripture History Thoughts on Taxation only " Another was, "Knickerbocker Bacon " As a rule, however, the correctness with which the work is described is rather remarkable.

At some few of the street-stalls, and at many of the shop-stalls, are boxes, containing works marked, "All ," or , , or Among these are old Court-Guides, Parliamentary Companions, Railway Plans, and a variety of sermons, and theological, as well as educational and political pamphlets. To show the character of the publications thus offered—not, perhaps, as a rule, but generally enough, for sale— I copied down the titles of some at and

All these at 1d.—'Letters to the Right Honourable Lord John Russell, on State Education, by Edward Baines, jun.;' 'A Pastoral Letter to the Clergy and Members of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America;' 'A Letter to the Protestant Dissenters of England and Wales, by the Rev. Robert Ainslie;' 'Friendly Advice to Conservatives;' 'Elementary Thoughts on the Principles of Currency and Wealth, and on the Means of Diminishing the Burthens of the People, by J. D. Basset, Esq., price 2s. 6d.'" The others were each published at 1s.

All these at 2d.—'Poems, by Eleanor Tatlock, 1811, 2 vols., 9s.;' 'Two Sermons, on the Fall and Final Restoration of the Jews, by the Rev. John Stuart;' 'Thoughts and Feelings, by Arthur Brooke, 1820;' 'The Amours of Philander and Sylvia, being the third and last part of Love-letters between a Nobleman and his Sister. Volume the Second. The Seventh Edition. London.'

From a cursory examination of the lastmen- tioned twopenny volume, I could see nothing of the nobleman or his sister. It is of an inane class of books, originated, I believe, in the latter part of the reign of Charles II. Such publications professed to be (and some few were) records of the court and city scandal of the day, but in general they were works founded on the reputation of the current scandal. In short, to adopt the language of patterers, they were "cocks" issued by the publishers of that period; and


they continued to be published until the middle of the eighteenth century, or a little later. I notice this description of literature the more, particularly as it is still frequently to be met with in street-sale. "There's oft enough," street-bookseller said to me, "works of that sort making up a 'lot' at a sale, and in very respectable rooms. As if they were make-weights, or to make up a sufficient number of books, and so they keep their hold in the streets."

As many of my readers may have little, if any, knowledge of this class of street-sold works, I cite a portion of the "epistle dedicatory," and a specimen of the style, of "Philander and Sylvia," to show the change in street, as well as in general literature, as no such works are now published:

To the Lord Spencer, My Lord, when a new book comes into the world, the first thing we consider is the dedication; and according to the quality and humour of the patron, we are apt to make a judgment of the following subject. If to a statesman we believe it grave and politic; if to a gownman, law or divinity; if to the young and gay, love and gallantry. By this rule, I believe the gentle reader, who finds your lordship's name prefixed before this, will make as many various opinions of it, as they do characters of your lordship, whose youthful sallies have been the business of so much discourse; and which, according to the relator's sense or good nature, is either aggravated or excused; though the woman's quarrel to your lordship has some more reasonable foundation, than that of your own sex; for your lordship being formed with all the beauties and graces of mankind, all the charms of wit, youth, and sweetness of disposition (derived to you from an illustrious race of heroes) adapting you to the noblest love and softness, they cannot but complain on that mistaken conduct of yours, that so lavishly deals out those agreeable attractions, squandering away that youth and time on many, which might be more advantageously dedicated to some one of the fair; and by a liberty (which they call not being discreet enough) rob them of all the hopes of conquest over that heart which they believe can fix no where; they cannot caress you into ameness; or if you sometimes appear so, they are still upon their guard with you; for like a young lion you are ever apt to leap into your natural wildness; the greatness of your soul disdaining to be confined to lazy repose; though the delicacy of your person and constitution so absolutely require it; your lordship not being made for diversions so rough and fatiguing, as those your active mind would impose upon it.

The last sentence is very long, so that a shorter extract may serve as a specimen of the staple of this book-making:

To Philander,—False and perjured as you are, I languish for a sight of you, and conjure you to give it me as soon as this comes to your hands. Imagine not that I have prepared those instruments of revenge that are so justly due to your perfidy; but rather, that I have yet too tender sentiments for you, in spite of the outrage you have done my heart; and that for all the ruin you have made, I still adore you: and though I know you are now another's slave, yet I beg you would vouchsafe to behold the spoils you have made, and allow me this recompense for all, to say—Here was the beauty I once esteemed, though now she is no more Philander's Sylvia.

Having thus described what may be considered the divisional parts of this stall trade, I proceed to the more general character of the class of books sold.

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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