London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Street-Sellers of Blacking, Black Lead, Etc.


I SPECIFY these commodities jointly, because they are frequently sold by the same individual. In Whitechapel and Spitalfields are establishments, where the street-sellers of blacking are principally supplied with their stock. It is sold in cakes, which are wrapped in a kind of oil paper, generally printed on the back, so as to catch the eye, with the address of some well-known blacking manufacturer. Thus some which a streetseller of blacking showed me were printed, in large type, as a sort of border, "Lewis's India Rubber Blacking," while in the middle was a very black and very predominant , and beneath it, in small and hardly distinguishable type, "Princess-st., Portman-market." Any shopkeeper, who "supplies the trade," if he be a regular customer of the manufacturer, can have his name and address printed on the cover of the blacking-cakes. The is meant to catch the eye with the wellknown flourish of ", Strand."

The quality of these cakes of blacking, the street-sellers whom I questioned told me was highly approved by their customers, and, as blacking is purchased by the classes who aim at a smartness and cleanliness above that of the purchasers of many street commodities, there is no reason to doubt the assertion. The sale of this blacking, indeed, is chiefly on a round, and it would be hopeless as to future custom to call a time at any house where bad blacking had been sold on a previous visit. The article is vended wholesale, in "gross boxes," and "halfgross boxes." The half-gross boxes are , and capital, even in this trifling trade, has its customary advantages, for the "gross boxes" are but It should be remembered, however, that to the buyer of "half-gross" a couple of the plain wooden boxes, in which the blacking is sold, and often hawked, must be supplied; but to the buyer of a "gross box" only of these cases is furnished. I may mention, to the credit


of the vendors, that of the wholesale blacking makers, have themselves been street-sellers, and still, but only at intervals, goes "on a blacking-round" among his old customers. There are other blacking-makers, but those I have specified, as to number, are more particularly the providers for the street trade. The poor people who sell blacking at a distance from the manufacturer's premises—as in the case of the ", Princess-st., Portman-market"—are supplied by oilmen, chandlers, and other shopkeepers, who buy largely of the manufacturers, and can consequently supply the purchasers by the dozen, for street sale or hawking, as cheaply as they would be supplied by the manufacturer himself. A dozen is generally charged , and as the cakes are sold at each (occasionally , both by the street people and more frequently the small shopkeepers) the profit is moderate enough. The cakes, however, which are regularly retailed at , are larger, and cost nearly twice the amount of the others wholesale.

This trade presents the peculiarity of being almost entirely a street "door-to-door" trade, as I heard it described. Blacking is not presented for purposes of begging, as are lucifer-matches, tracts, memorandum-books, boot-laces, &c.; for the half-trading, half-begging, is carried on in the quieter parts of town, and more extensively in the suburbs, ladies being principally accosted, and to them blacking is not offered.

There are now, I learn from good authority, never fewer than persons selling cake blacking, "from door to door." More than half of them are elderly women, and more than threefourths women of all ages and girls. The other sellers are old men and boys. None of the blacking-sellers make the article they vend. To sell dozen cakes a week is a full average, and of these the "pennies" and the "half-pennies" are about equally divided. This gives a weekly outlay of to each individual seller, with an average profit of about , and shows a yearly streetexpenditure by the public of The profit, however, is not in equal apportionment among the traders in blacking, for the "old hands" on a regular round will do double the business of the others.

In liquid blacking the trade is now small. It is occasionally sold in the street markets on Saturday nights, but the principal traffic is in the public-houses. This kind of blacking is retailed at a bottle, and, I was informed by a man who had sold it, was "rather queer stuff." It is labelled "equal to" (in very small letters) DAY AND MARTIN" in very large letters. of the manufacturers a few years ago told my informant that he had been threatened "with being sued for piracy, but it was no use sueing a mouse." There are sometimes none, and sometimes persons hawking this blacking, and they are principally, I am informed, the servants of showmen, "out of employ," or "down on their luck." Some of these men "raffle" their blacking in public-houses. They are provided with tickets, numbered from to , which are thrown, the blank sides upwards on a table, and the drawer of number wins a -penny bottle of blacking for ; for this the raffler receives Few of these traders sell more than dozen bottles in a day, the principal trade being in the evening, and "-and-a-half dozen is a very good day." The goods are carried in a sack, slung from the shoulder, and are a very heavy carriage, as twoand-a- half dozen, which are often carried, weigh about lbs. If men, the year through, take each weekly (about half the amount being profit), which, I am assured, is the average extent of the trade, we find yearly expended in this liquid blacking. " years ago," said blacking seller to me, "it was times as much as it is now." At the mews blacking is sold by men who are for the most part servants out of place, or who have become known to the denizens of the mews, from having been "helpers" in some capacity, if they have not worn a livery. Here the article vended is what it is announced to be,—"Hoby's" or "Everett's" blacking. The sellers are known to the coachmen and grooms, many of whom have to "find their own blacking," or there would be no business done in the mews, the dwellers there being great sticklers for "a good article." The profit to the vendors is in Shilling bottles are vended as numerously as "sixpennies." An old coachman, who had lived in mews in all parts of town, calculated that, take the year through, there was every day men selling blacking in the mews, with an average profit of a day, or a week, so taking each. This gives a mews expenditure, yearly, of

, for the polishing of grates, is sold in small paper packets, the half ounce being a , and the ounce a The profit is cent. per cent. Nearly all the women who sell blacking, as I have described, sell black-lead also. In addition to these elderly traders, however, there are from to boys and girls who vend blacklead in the street markets, but chiefly on Saturday nights, and on other days offer it through the area rails—their wretched plight, without any actual begging, occasionally procuring them custom.

The black-lead sold in the streets has often a label in imitation of that of established shopkeepers, as "Superfine Pencil Black-Lead, prepared expressly for, and sold by T. H. Jennings, Oil- Colour and Italian Warehouse, , Wormwoodstreet, City." The name and address must of course be different, but the arrangement of the lines, and often the type, is followed closely, as are the adornments of the packet, which in the instance cited are heraldic. In other parts of town, the labels of tradesmen are imitated in a similar way, but not very closely; and in nearly half the qantity sold a label is given, without imitation or sham. "There would be more sold in that way," I was told by a sharp lad, "quite the real ticket, if the dons as wholesales the black-lead, would make it up to sell in ha'porths and penn'orths, with a proper 'lowance to us as sells." This boy and a young sister went on a round; the boy with black-lead, the girl with


boot-laces, in direction, the mother going in another, and each making for their room at in the evening, or as soon as "sold out."

There are, I am informed, to persons selling and hawking black-lead in the streets, and it may be estimated that they take each weekly (the adults selling other small articles with the black-lead); thus we find, averaging the number of sellers at , that is yearly expended in this article, half of which sum forms the profit of the street-folk.

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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