London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Street-Sellers of Spar and China Ornaments, and of Stone Fruit.


"SPARS," as spar ornaments are called by the street-sellers, are sold to the retailers at only places in London, and in Gravesend (where the hawkers are for the most part supplied). The London spar-houses are— in , in , and on Battle-bridge. None of them present any display of their goods which are kept in large drawers, closets, and packages. At Gravesend the spar-shops are handsome.

These wares are principally of Derbyshire spar, and made in Matlock; a few are German. The "spars" are hawked on a round, and are on fine Saturday nights offered for sale in the street and markets. The trade was unknown as a street, or a hawking trade in London, I am informed, until about years ago, and then was not extensive, the goods, owing to the cost of carriage, &c., being high-priced. As public conveyance became more rapid, certain and cheap, the trade in spars increased, and cheaper articles were prepared for the London market. From to years ago the vendors of spars "did well in swop" (as street-sellers always call barters). The articles with which they tempted housewives were just the sort of article to which it was difficult for inexperienced persons to attach a value. They were massive and handsome ornaments, and the spar-sellers did not fail to expatiate on their many beauties. "God rest Jack Moody's soul," said an Irishman, now a crock-seller, to me; "Jack Moody was only his nick-name, but that don't matter; God rist his sowl and the hivens be his bid. He was the boy to sell the spar-r's. They was from the cavrents at the bottom of the say, he towld them, or from a new island in the frozen ocean. He did well; God rist him; but he died young." The articles "swopped" were such as I have described in my account of the tradings of the crock-sellers; and if the "swop" were in favour of the spar-seller, still the customer became possessed of something solid, enduring, and generally handsome.

At the outset of the street or hawking trade, the spar-sellers carried their goods done up in paper, in strong baskets on their heads; the man's wife sometimes carrying a smaller basket, with less burdensome articles, on her arm. Men have been known to start on a round, with a basket of spars, which would weigh from cwt. to cwt. (or stone). This, it must be remembered, might


have to be borne for or miles into the suburbs, before its weight was diminished by a sale. of these traders told me that years ago he had sold spar watch-stands, weighing above lbs. These stands were generally of a square form; the inner portion being open, except a sort of recess for the watch. "The tick sounds well on spar, I've often heard," said sparseller.

Some of the spar ornaments are plain, white, and smooth. Of these many have flowers, or rims, or insects, painted upon them, and in brilliant colours. Those which are now in demand for the street sales, or for itinerant barterings, are— Small microscopes, candlesticks, inkstands, pincushions, mugs, paper-holders, match perfumery, and shaving-boxes, etc. The general price of these articles is to the street-seller or hawker, some of the dealers being licensed hawkers. The wholesale price varies from to per dozen; or an average of or Of the larger articles the most saleable are candlesticks, at from to each; from to being the most frequent price. Watch-stands and vases are now, I am told, in small demand. "People's got stocked, I think," man said, "and there's so much cheap glass and chaney work, that they looks on spars as heavy and old-fashioned."

Some street-sellers have their spars in covered barrows, the goods being displayed when the top of the barrow is removed, so that the conveyance is serviceable whether the owner be stationary or itinerant. The spar-sellers, however, are reluctant to expose their goods to the weather, as the colours are easily affected.

In this trade I am informed that there are now men, of whom are assisted by their wives, and that in the summer months there are eighteen. Their profits are about per week on an average of the whole year, including the metropolis and a wide range of the suburbs. What amount of money may be expended by the public in the street purchase of "spars" I am unable to state, so much being done in the way of barter; but assuming that there are sellers throughout the year, and that their profits are cent. per cent., there would appear to be about per annum thus laid out.

Of stone fruit there are now usually street sellers, and in fine weather . or years ago there were . The fruit is principally made at Chesterfield in Derbyshire, and is disposed of to the London street-sellers in the swag-shops in . Some of the articles, both as regards form and colour, are well executed; others are far too red or too green; but that, I was told, pleased children best. The most saleable fruits are apples, pears, peaches, apricots, oranges, lemons and cucumbers. The cucumbers, which are sometimes of pot as well as of stone, are often hollow, and are sometimes made to serve for ginbottles, holding about a quartern.

The price at the swag-shops is for a gross of fruit of all kinds in equal quantities; for a better quality the price is The street-seller endeavours to get each for the lower priced, and for the higher, but has most frequently to be content with and The stone fruitmen are itinerant during the week and stationary in the street markets on Saturday, and sometimes other evenings. They carry their stock both in baskets and barrows. man told me that he always cried, "Pick 'em out! pick 'em out! Half-penny each! Cheapest fruit ever seen! As good tomorrow as last week! Never lose flavour! Everlasting fruit."

Supposing that there are persons selling stone-fruit in the streets through the year, and that each earns—and I am assured that is the full amount— weekly ( man said was the limit of his weekly profits in fruit), we find received as profit on these articles, and calculating the gains at per cent., an outlay of

The trade in China ornaments somewhat differs from the others I have described under the present head. It is both a street and a public-house trade, and is carried on both in the regular way and by means of raffles. At some public-houses, indeed, the China ornament dealers are called "rafflers."

The "ornaments" now most generally sold or raffled are Joy and Grief ( figures, laughing and the other crying); dancing Highlanders; mustard pots in the form of cottages, &c.; grotesque heads, especially of an old man, which serves as a pepper-box, the grains being thrown through the eyes, nose, and mouth; Queen and Alberts (but not half so well as the others); and, until of late, Smith O'Briens. There are others, also, such as I have mentioned in my account of the general swag-shops, to the windows of many of which they form the principal furniture. Some of these "ornaments" sold "on the sly" can hardly be called obscene, but they are dirty, and cannot be further described.

The most lucrative part of the trade is in the raffling. A street-seller after doing what business he can, on a round or at a stand, during the day, will in the evening resort to public-houses, where he is known, and is allowed to offer his wares to the guests. The ornaments, in public-house sale, are hardly ever offered for less than each, or a pair. The raffling is carried on rapidly and simply. Dice are very rarely used now, and when used, provoke many murmurs from the landlords. The raffler of the China ornaments produces a portable roulette box or table—these tables becoming an established part of street traffic— or inches in diameter. What may be called "the board" of some of these "roulettes" is numbered to . It is set rapidly spinning on a pivot, a pea is then slipped through a hole in the lid of the box, and, when the motion has ceased, the pea is found in of the numbered partitions. "Now, gentlemen," a raffler told me he would say, "try your luck for this beautiful pair of ornaments; of you at a piece. If you go home rather how came you so, show what you've bought for the old lady, and it'll be all right and peaceful." If persons contribute each, the "spinning" the highest number


gains the prize, and is congratulated by the ornament seller on having gained for what was only too cheap at "Why, sir," said a man who had recently left the trade for another calling, and who was anxious that I should not give any particular description of him, "in case he went back to the raffling,"—"Why, sir, I remember Monday evening or months back, going into a parlour, not a tap-room, mind, where was respectable mechanics. They got to play with me, and got keen, and played until my stock was all gone. If man stopped raffling, another took his place. I can't recollect how many ornaments I raffled, but I cleared rather better than When there was no ornaments left they gave me a piece—there was of them then—and a pint of beer to let them have the roulette till o'clock; and away they went at it for beer and screws, and bets of and young man that had been lucky in winning the ornaments got cleaned out, and staked his ornaments for , or for a rather than not play. That sort of thing only happened to me once, to the same extent. If the landlord came into the room, of course they was only playing for drink, or he might have begun about his licence."

The ornaments are bought at the swag shops I have described, and are nearly all of German make. They are retailed from and sometimes to each, and the profit is from to per cent. There are, I am informed, about persons in this trade, -thirds of them being rafflers, and their receipts being from to weekly. Most of them mix "fancy glass" goods and spars, and other articles, with their "ornament" trade, so that it is not easy to ascertain what is expended upon the china ornaments independently of other wares. If we calculate it at weekly (a low average considering the success of some of the raffles), we find expended in the streets in these ornamental productions.

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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