London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Street-Sellers of Miscellaneous Manufactured articles.


IN addition to the more staple wares which form the street trade in manufactured articles of a miscellaneous character, are many, as I said before, which have been popular for a while and are now entirely disused. In the course of my inquiry it was remarkable how oblivious I found many of the street-sellers as to what they had sold at various periods. "O dear, yes sir, I've sold all sorts of things in the streets besides what I'm on now; and then another as promised a few pence," was the substance of a remark I frequently heard; but was meant by the and the other thing thus sold they had a difficulty to call to mind, but on a hint being thrown out they could usually give the necessary details. From the information I acquired I select the following curious matter.

or years ago were sold extensively by the street-folk. These were clumsy lead-coloured things, which were described by the puffing shop-keepers, and in due course by the street-sellers, as a perfect amulet; a thing which by its mere contact with the finger would not only cure but prevent "fits, rheumatics, and cramps." On my asking a man who had sold them if these were all the ailments of which he and the others proclaimed the galvanic rings an infallible cure, he answered: "Like the quack medicines you read about, sir, in 'vertisements, we said they was good for anything anybody complained of or was afraid was coming on them, but we went mostly for rheumatics. A sight of tin some of the shopkeepers must have made, for what we sold at they got a piece for. Then for gold galvanics—and I've been told they was gilt—they had each. The streets is nothing to the shops on a dodge. I've been told by people as I'd sold galvanics to, that they'd had benefit from them. I suppose that was just superstitious. I think Hyams did the most of any house in galvanics."

The men selling these rings—for the business was carried on almost entirely by men—were the regular street-traders, who sell " thing and then another." They were carried in boxes, as I have shown medals are now, and they generally formed a portion of the street-jeweller's stock, whether he were itinerant or stationary. The purchasers were labourers in the open air, such as those employed about buildings, whose exposure to the alternations of heat and cold render them desirous of a cure for, or preventive against rheumatism. The costermongers were also purchasers, and in the course of my inquiries among that numerous body, I occasionally saw a galvanic ring still worn by a few, and those chiefly, I think, fish-sellers.

Nor was the street or shop trade in these galvanic rings confined to amulets for the finger. I heard of elderly woman, then a prosperous street-seller in the New Cut, who slept with a galvanic ring on every toe, she suffered so much from cramp and rheumatism! There were also galvanic shields, which were to be tied round the waist, and warranted "to cure all over." They were retailed at each. Galvanic earring were likewise a portion of this manufacture. They were not "drops" from the ear, but filled behind and around it as regards the back of he skull, and were to avert rheumatic attacks, and even aching from the head. The street price was the pair. Galvanic bracelets, handsomely gilt, were the pair. But the sal of all these highter-priced charms was a mere nonentity compared to that of the penny rings.

Another trade—if it may be closed under this head—carried on by great numbers and with great success for a while, was tat of This was an engraving—now and then offered in the streets still—strictly fulfilling the announcement as to the compass in mich the Prayer was contained, with the addition of a drawing of the Bible, as part of the engraving, "within the -


pence." This trade was at , I am told, chiefly in the hands of the patterers: "Grand novelty!" they said; "splendid engraving! The Lord's Prayer, with a beautiful picture of the Bible, all legible to the naked eye, in the compass of a sixpence. letters, all clear, on a sixpence." man said to me: "I knew very well there wasn't , but it was a neat number to cry. A schoolmaster said to me once—'Why, there isn't above half that number of letters.' He was wrong though; for I believe there's ." This card was published or years ago, and the success attending the sale of the Lord's Prayer, led to the publication of the Belief in the same form. "When the trade was new," said man, "I could sell a gross in a day without any very great trouble; but in a little time there was hundreds in the trade, and might patter hard to sell dozen."

The wholesale price was the gross, and as cards went to the dozen, the day's profit when a gross was sold was When the sale did not extend to beyond dozen the profit was A few cards "in letters of gold" were vended in the streets at each. They had large margins and presented a handsome appearance. The wholesale price was the dozen.

When this trade was at its height, there were, I am told, from to men, women and children engaged in it; selling the cards both with and without other articles. The cards had also a very extensive sale in the country.

are another commodity which appeared suddenly, about months ago, in street commerce, and at once became the staple of a considerable traffic. These pens are or inches long, the "body," so to speak, being of solid round glass, of almost all colours, green, blue, and black predominating, with a seal (lacquered white or yellow) at the top, and a holder of the usual kind, with a steel pen at the bottom. Some are made of white pot and called "China pens," and of these some are ornamented with small paintings of flowers and leaves. These wares are German, and were charged the gross, without pens, which were an additional at the swag-shops. The price is now the gross, the pens being the same. The streetsellers who were fortunate enough to "get a good start" with these articles did exceedingly well. The pen-holders, when new, are handsome-looking, and at each were cheap; some few were at retailed at man, I am told, sold -and-a-half gross in day in the neigbourhood of the Bank, purchasers not seldom taking a dozen or more. As the demand continued, some men connected with the supply of goods for street sale, purchased all the stock in the swagshops, expending about , and at once raised the price to the gross. This amount the poorer street-sellers demurred to give, as they could rarely obtain a higher price than each, and for the ornamented holders, but the streetstationers (who bought, however, very sparingly) and the small shopkeepers gave the advance "as they found the glass-holders asked for." On the whole, I am told, this forestalling was not very profitable to the speculators, as when fresh supplies were received at the "swags," the price fell.

At this street business was carried on by men, but it was soon resorted to by numbers of poor women and children. gentleman informed me that in consequence of reading "London Labour and the London Poor," he usually had a little talk with the street-sellers of whom he purchased any trifle; he bought these pen-holders of or different women and girls; all of them could answer correctly his inquiry as to the uses of the pens; but only girl, of or , and she hesitatingly, ventured to assert that she could write her own name with the pen she offered for sale. The street-trade still continues, but instead of being in the hands of individuals—as it was, at the very least, I am assured, at period—there are now only about carrying it on itinerantly, while with the "pitched" sales-people, the glass-holders are merely a portion of the stock, and with the itinerants dozen a week (a receipt of , and a profit of ) is now an average sale. The former glass-holder sellers of the poorer sort are now vending oranges.

form another of the articles— (generally either "useful things" or with such recommendation to street-buyers as the galvanic amulets possessed)—which every now and then are disposed of in great quantities in the streets. If an attempt be made by a manufacturer to establish a cheaper shirt button, for instance, of horn, or pot, or glass, and if it prove unsuccessful, or if an improvement be effected and the old stock becomes a sort of dead stock, the superseded goods have to be disposed of, and I am informed by a person familiar with those establishments, that the swag-shopkeepers can always find customers, "for anything likely," with the indispensable proviso that it be cheap. In this way shirt buttons have lately been sold in the streets, not only by the vendors of small wares in their regular trade, but by men, lads, and girls, some of the males shirtless themselves, who sell them solely, with a continuous and monotonous cry of "Halfpenny a dozen; halfpenny a dozen." The wholesale price of the last "street lot," was the gross, or the dozen. To clear a day in shirt buttons is "good work;" it is more frequently

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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