London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Pedlar-Jewellers.


I HAVE heard a manufacturer of Birmingham jewellery assert, that of copper was sufficient to make worth of jewellery; consequently, the material to provide the unmanufactured stock in trade of a wholesale dealer in Birmingham jewellery, is not over expensive. It may be imagined then that the pedlars who hawk jewellery do not invest a very great capital in the wares they sell; there are some few, however, who have very valuable stocks of goods, pedlars though they be. This trade is principally pursued by Jews, and to a great extent (especially in a small way) by foreign Jews. The Jews are, I think, more attentive to the wants of their poorer brethren than other people; and instead of supplying them with trifling sums of money, which must necessarily soon be


expended, they give them small quantities of goods, so that they may immediately commence foraging for their own support. Many of these poor Jews, when provided with their stock of merchandise, can scarcely speak a word of English, and few of them know but little respecting the value of the goods they sell; they always take care to ask a good price, leaving plenty of room for abatement. I heard observe that they could not easily be taken in by being overcharged, for according what they paid for the article they fixed the price upon it. Some of these men, notwithstanding their scanty knowledge of the trade at starting, have eventually become excellent judges of jewellery; some of them, moreover, have acquired riches in it; indeed from the indomitable perseverance of the Hebrew race, success is generally the result of their untiring industry. If once you look at the goods of a Jew pedlar, it is not an easy matter to get out of his clutches; it is not for want of perseverance if he does not bore and tease you, until at length you are glad to purchase some trifle to get rid of him. of my informants tells me he is acquainted with several Jews, who now hold their heads high as merchants, and are considered very excellent judges of the wares they deal in, who originally began trading with but a small stock of jewellery, and that a charitable donation. As well as Jews there are Irishmen who deal in such commodities. The pedlar generally has a mahogany box bound with brass, and which he carries with a strap hung across his shoulder; when he calls at a house, an inquiry is made whether there is any old silver or gold to dispose of. "I will give you a full price for any such articles." If the lady or gentleman accosted seems to be likely to buy, the box is immediately opened and a tempting display of gold rings, chains, scent-boxes, lockets, brooches, breast-pins, bracelets, silver thimbles, &c., &c., are exposed to view. All the eloquence the pedlar can command is now brought into play. The jewellery is arranged about the persons of his expected customers to the best advantage. The pedlar says all he can think of to enhance their sale: he will chop and change for anything they may wish to dispose of—any old clothes, books or useless lumber may be converted into ornaments for the hair or other parts of dress. The Irish pedlar mostly confines his visits to the vicinity of large factories where there are many girls employed; these he supplies with earrings, necklaces, shawl-pins, brooches, lockets, &c., which are bought wholesale at the following prices:—Earrings and drops at from to per dozen pairs; the earring is a neat little article says my informant, and those sold at each, wholesale, are gorgeous-looking affairs; many of the latter have been disposed of by the pedlars at the pair, and even a greater price. Necklaces are from to per dozen. Lockets may be purchased wholesale at from to per dozen; guard chains (German silver) are per dozen; gilt heavy-looking waistcoat chains per dozen: and all other articles are equally low in price. The pedlar jeweller can begin busi- ness "respectably" for . His box costs him ; half-a-dozen pairs of earrings of different sorts, ; half-a-dozen lockets (various), ; half-a-dozen guard chains, ; halfa- dozen shawl brooches, ; dozen breastpins (different kinds), ; dozen finger rings of various descriptions, ; half-a-dozen brooches at each, ; dozen necklaces (a variety), at ; silver pencil-cases at each, ; half-a-dozen waistcoat chains, ; silver toothpick, at These make altogether . If the articles are arranged with taste and seeming care (as if they were very valuable), with jeweller's wadding under each, and stuck on pink cards, &c., while the finger rings are inserted in the long narrow velvet-lined groove of the box, and the other "valuables" well spread about the little portable shop—they may be made to assume a very respectable and almost "rich" appearance. Many who now have large establishments commenced life with much less stock than is here mentioned. The Jews, I do not think, continues my informant, are the best salesmen; and the fact of their being Israelites is, in many instances, a bar to their success; country people, especially, are afraid of being taken in by them. The importunities and appeals of the Hebrew, however, are far more urgent than any other tradesman; and they always wait where they think there's the slightest chance of effecting a sale, until the door is slammed in their face. I believe there are not, at the present time, many (especially small traders) who deal exclusively in jewellery; they mostly add other small and light articles—such as fancy cutlery, side combs, &c. There may, at a rough guess, be of them travelling the country; half the number are poor foreign Jews; a quarter are Jews, who have, perhaps, followed the same calling for years; and the remaining quarter, a mixture of Irish and English, with a small preponderance of Irishmen. All these "swop" their goods for old gold and silver, and frequently realize a large sum, by changing the base metal for the sterling article. Their goods are always sold as being gold or silver— If asked whether a particular article be gold, they reply "It's jewellers' gold;" "Is this ring gold?" inquires the customer, taking from the box— "No, ma'am, I wouldn't deceive you!" is the answer, " is not gold; but here is ," adds the pedlar (taking up exactly of the same description, and which cost the same price) "which is of a similar shape and fashion, and the best jeweller's gold that is made." The profits of the pedlar-jewellers it is almost impossible to calculate, for they will sell at any price upon which the smallest amount of profit can be realized. The foreign Jews, especially, will do this, and it is not an unusual circumstance for of these men to ask for an article which originally cost them , and which they will eventually sell for

In London there are about hawkers of jewellery, who visit the public-houses; but few of these have boxes—they invite customers by displaying some chains in their hands, or having or arranged in front of their waistcoats, while


the smaller articles are carried in their waistcoat pockets. The class of persons who patronize the public-house hawkers are those who visit the taprooms of taverns, and countrymen in the vicinity of upon market days, ( of the hawkers tells me, that they succeed better upon the hay-market days than at the cattle sales, for the butchers, they say, are too "fly" for them. Sailors are among their best customers, but the costergirls are very fond of drop earrings and coral beads; the sailors, however, give the best prices of all. I am told that the quantity of old gold and silver which the country pedlars obtain in exchange for their goods is "astonishing;" and there have been occasions on which a pedlar has been enriched for life by single transaction of barter; some old and unfashionable piece of jewellery, that they received for their goods, has been composed of costly stones, which had lain by for years, and of which the pedlar's customer was unacquainted with the value. The more respectable jewellery pedlars put up at the better class of public-houses, and, even after their day's travels are over, they still have an eye to business; they open the box upon the table of the tap-room where they are lodging, and, under the pretence of cleaning or arranging their goods, temptingly display their glittering stock. The bar-maid, kitchen-maid, the landlady's daughter, or perhaps the landlady herself, admires some ornaments, which the pedlar declares would become them vastly. He hangs a necklace upon the neck of of them; holds a showy earring and drop to the ear of another; facetiously inquires of the girls whether they are not likely to want something of this sort shortly—as he holds up a wedding-ring, and then a baby's coral; or else he exhibits a ring set with Turquoise, or pearls and small diamonds in a cluster, to the landlady, and tries it on her finger; and by such arts a sale that will cover his expenses is generally effected. There is peculiarity these men have when bartering their goods. A worn-out ornament of jewellery is brought to them, and, although it be brass, the pedlar never attempts to undeceive the possessor, if he finds it is considered to be genuine. Of course he never gives cash for such articles; but he offers a large price in barter. "I will take for this ring, and allow you for the old ," says the pedlar. It would never do to say the ornament was not gold; the customer bought it years ago for such, and no ever disputed its being the precious metal; should our pedlar do so, he might as well shut up shop immediately. The lady would be angry and suspicious; neither would she believe him, but rather suspect that he wanted only to cheat her; consequently the pedlar barters, obtains the old ring, or some other article, and , for his commodity; and though the article he has taken in exchange is worth only a few pence, he very likely profits to the amount of per cent. upon the cash received. The pediars of lesser consequence put up at humble private or public-houses, and some of them at the common lodging-houses. Those who have only small stocks confine their visits to farm-houses and villages.

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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