London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Character of Books of the Street-Sale.


THERE has been a change, and in some respects a considerable change, in the character or class of books sold at the street-stalls, within the last or years, as I have ascertained from the most experienced men in the trade. Now sermons, or rather the works of the old divines, are rarely seen at these stalls, or if seen, are rarely purchased. Black-letter editions are very unfrequent at street book-stalls, and it is times more difficult, I am assured, for street-sellers to pick up anything really rare and curious, than it was in the early part of the century.

reason assigned for this change by an intelligent street-seller was, that black-letter or any ancient works, were almost all purchased by the -hand booksellers, who have shops and issue catalogues, as they had a prompt sale for them whenever they could pick them up at book-auctions or elsewhere. "Ay, indeed," said another book-stall keeper, "anything scarce or curious, when it's an old book, is kept out of the streets; if it's not particular decent, sir," (with a grin), "why it's reckoned all the more curious,—that's the word, sir, I know,— 'curious.' I can tell how many beans make as well as you or anybody. Why, now, there's a -hand bookseller not a miles from Holborn—and a pleasant, nice man he is, and does a respectable business— and he puts to the end of his catalogue—they all have catalogues that's in a good way— pages that he calls 'Facetiæ.' They're titles and prices of queer old books in all languages— indecent books, indeed. He sends his catalogues to a many clergymen and learned people; and to any that he thinks wouldn't much admire seeing his 'Facetiæ,' he pulls the last leaf out, and sends his catalogue, looking finished without it. Those last pages aren't at all the worst part of his trade among buyers that's worth money."

In respect a characteristic of this trade is unaltered; I allude to the prevalence of "odd volumes" at the cheaper stalls,—not the odd volumes of a novel, but more frequently of of the essayists—the "Spectator" especially. stall-keeper told me, that if he purchased an old edition of the "Spectator," in vols., he could more readily sell it in single volumes, at each, than sell the vols. altogether for , or even , though this was but a volume.

There's nothing in my trade," said one street-bookseller with whom I conversed on the subject, "that sells better, or indeed so well, as English classics. I can't offer to draw fine distinctions, and I'm just speaking of my own plain way of trade; but I call English classics such works as the 'Spectator,' 'Tatler,' 'Guardian,' 'Adventurer,' 'Rambler,' 'Rasellas,' 'The Vicar of Wakefield,' 'Peregrine Pickle,' 'Tom Jones, 'Goldsmith's His- tories of Greece, Rome, and England' (they all sell quick), 'Enfield's Speaker,' 'mixed plays,' the 'Sentimental Journey,' no, sir, 'Tristram Shandy,' rather hangs on hand, the 'Pilgrim's Progress' (but it must be sold very low), 'Robinson Crusoe,' 'Philip Quarles,' 'Telemachus,' 'Gil Blas,' and 'Junius's Letters.' I don't remember more at this moment, such as are of good sale. I haven't included poetry, because I'm speaking of English classics, and of course they must be oldish works to be classics.

Concerning the street sale of poetical works I learned from street book-sellers, that their sale was of volumes of Shakespeare, Pope, Thomson, Goldsmith, Cowper, Burns, Byron, and Scott. "You must recollect, sir," said dealer, "that in nearly all those poets there's a double chance for sale at book-stalls. For what with old editions, and new and cheap editions, there's always plenty in the market, and very low. No, I can't say I could sell Milton as quickly as any of those mentioned, nor 'Hudibras,' nor 'Young's Night Thoughts,' nor Prior, nor Dryden, nor 'Gay's Fables.' It's seldom that we have any works of Hood, or Shelley, or Coleridge, or Wordsworth, or Moore at street stalls—you don't often see them, I think, at booksellers' stalls—for they're soon picked up. Poetry sells very fair, take it altogether."

Another dealer told me that from to years ago there were at the street-stalls a class of works rarely seen now. He had known them in all parts and had disposed of them in his own way of business. He specified the "Messiah" (Klopstock's) as of this class, the "Death of Abel," the "Castle of Otranto" ("but that's seen occasionally still," he observed), the "Old English Baron" ("and that's seen still too, but nothing to what it were once"), the "Young Man's Best Companion" "Zimmerman on Solitude," and "Burke on the Sublime and Beautiful" ("but I have that yet sometimes.") These works were of heavy sale in the streets, and my informant thought they had been thrown into the street-trade because the publishers had not found them saleable in the regular way. "I was dead sick of the 'Death of Abel,'" observed the man, "before I could get out of him." Occasionally are to be seen at most of the stalls, works of which the majority of readers have heard, but may not have met with. Among such I saw "Laura," by Capel Lloftt, vols. "Darwin's Botanic Garden," "Alfred, an Epic Poem," by H. J. Pye, Poet Laureate, "Cœlebs in search of a Wife," vols. in ,

The same informant told me that he had lived near an old man who died years ago, or it might be more, with whom he was somewhat intimate. This old man had been all his life familiar with the street trade in books, which he had often hawked—a trade now almost unknown; his neighbour had heard him say that to years ago, he made his guineas a week "without distressing hisself," meaning, I was told, that he was drinking every Monday at least. This old man used to tell that in his day, the "Whole Duty of Man," and the "Tale of a Tub," and "Pomfret's Poems," and "Pamela," and "Sir Charles Grandison" went off , but "Pamela" the best. "And I've heard the old man say, sir," I was further told, "how he had to tread his shoes straight about what books he showed publicly. He sold 'Tom Paine' on the sly. If anybody bought a book and would pay a good price for it, times as much as was marked, he'd the 'Age of Reason' in. I never see it now, but I don't suppose anybody would interfere if it was offered. A sly trade's always the best for paying, and for selling too. The old fellow used to laugh and say his stall was quite a godly stall, and he wasn't often without a copy or of the 'Anti-Jacobin Review,' which was all forChurch and State and all that, though he had 'Tom Paine' in a drawer."

The books sold at the street-stalls are purchased by the retailers either at the auctions of the regular trade, or at "chance," or general auctions, or of the Jews or others who may have bought books cheap under such circumstances. Often, however, the stall-keeper has a market peculiarly his own. It is not uncommon for working men or tradesmen, if they become "beaten-down and poor" to carry a basket-full of books to a stall-keeper, and say, "Here, give me half-a-crown for these." man had parts, each issued at , of a Bible, offered to him at a part, by a mechanic who could not any longer afford to "take them in," and was at last obliged to sell off what he had. Of course such things are nearly valueless when imperfect. Very few works are bought for street-stall sale of the regular booksellers.

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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