London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Street-Sellers of Cigars.


CIGARS, I am informed, have constituted a portion of the street-trade for upwards of years, having been introduced not long after the removal of the prohibition on their importation from Cuba. It was not, however, until or years later that they were at all extensively sold in the streets; but the street-trade in cigars is no longer extensive, and in some respects has ceased to exist altogether.

I am told by experienced persons that the cigars vended in the streets and public-houses were really smuggled. I say "really" smuggled, as many now vended under that pretence never came from the smuggler's hands. "Well, now, sir," said man, "the last time I sold Pickwicks and Cubers a penny apiece with lights for nothing, was at Greenwich Fair, on the sly rather, and them as I could make believe was buying a smuggled thing, bought far freer. Everybody likes a smuggled thing." [This remark is only in consonance with what I have heard from others of the same class.] "In my time I've sold what was smuggled, or made to appear as sich, but far more in the country than town, to all sorts—to gentlemen, and ladies, and shopkeepers, and parsons, and doctors, and lawyers. Why no, sir, I can't say as how I ever sold anything in that way to an exciseman. But smuggling'll always be liked; it's sich a satisfaction to any man to think he's done the tax-gatherer."

The price of a cigar, in the earlier stages of the street-traffic, was and of the boxes in which these wares are ordinarily packed was divided by a partition, the side containing the higher, and the other the lower priced article. The division was often a mere trick of trade—in justification of which any street-seller would be sure to cite the precedent of shopkeepers' practices—for the cigars might be the same price (wholesale) but the bigger and better-looking were selected as "threepennies," the "werry choicest and realest Hawanners, as mild as milk, and as strong as gunpowder," for such, I am told, was the cry of a then well-known street-trader. The great sale was of the "twopennies." As the fuzees, now so common, were unknown, and lucifer matches were higher-priced, and much inferior to what they are at present, the cigar seller in most instances carried tow with him, a portion of which he kept ignited in a sort of tinder-box, and at this the smokers lighted their cigars; or the vender twisted together a little tow and handed it, ignited, to a customer, that if he were walking on he might renew his "light," if the cigar "wouldn't draw."

A cheaper cigar soon found its way into street commerce, "only a penny apiece, prime cigars;" and on its introduction, a straw was fitted into it, as a mouth-piece. "Cigar tubes" were also sold in the streets; they were generally of bone, and charged from to each. The cigar was fitted into the tube, and they were strongly recommended on the score of economy, as "by means of this tube, any gen'l'man can smoke his cigar to half a quarter of an inch, instead of being forced to throw it away with an inch and a half left." These tubes have not for a long time been vended in the streets. I am told by a person, who himself was then engaged in the sale, that the greatest number of penny cigars ever sold in the streets in day was on that of her Majesty's coronation (). Of this he was quite


positive from what he had experienced, seen, and heard.

In my opinion," said another street-seller, "the greatest injury the street-trade in such things had was when the publicans took to selling cigars. They didn't at first, at least not generally; I've sold cigars myself, at the bars of respectable houses, to gentlemen that was having their glass of ale with a friend, and one has said to another, 'Come, we'll have a smoke,' and has bought a couple. O, no; I never was admitted to offer them in a parlour or tap-room; that would have interfered with the order for 'screws' (penny papers of tobacco), which is a rattling good profit, I can tell you. Indeed, I was looked shy at, from behind the bar; but if customers chose to buy, a landlord could hardly interfere. Now, it's no go at all in such places.

common practice among the smarter streetseller, when "on cigars," was, until of late years, and still is, occasionally at races and fairs, to possess themselves of a few really choice "weeds," as like as they could procure them to their stockin-trade, and to smoke of them, as they urged their traffic.

The aroma was full and delicate, and this was appealed to if necessary, or, as man worded it, the smell was "left to speak for itself." The street-folk who prefer the sale of what is more or less a luxury, become, by the mere necessities of their calling, physiognomists and quick observers, and I have no reason to doubt the assertion of cigar-vendor, when he declared that in the earlier stages of this traffic he could always, and most unerringly in the country, pick out the man on whose judgment others seemed to rely, and by selling him of his choice reserve, procure a really impartial opinion as to its excellence, and so influence other purchasers. When the town trade "grew stale"—the usual term for its fallingoff—the cigar-sellers had a remunerative field in many parts of the country.

In London, before railways became the sole means of locomotion to a distance, the cigar-sellers frequented the coaching-yards; and the "outsides" frequently "bought a cigar to warm their noses of a cold night," and sometimes filled their cases, if the cigar-seller chanced to have the good word of the coachman or guard.

The cigar street-trade was started by Jews, brothers, named Benasses, who were "licensed to deal in tobacco," and vended good articles. When they relinquished the open-air business, they supplied the other street-sellers, whose numbers increased very rapidly. The itinerant cigarven- ding was always principally in the hands of the Jews, but the general street-traders resorted to the traffic on all occasions of public resort,—"sich times," observed , "as fairs and races, and crownations, and Queen's weddings; I wish they came a bit oftener for the sake of trade." The manufacture of the cigars sold at the lowest rates, is now almost entirely in the hands of the Jews, and I am informed by a distinguished member of that ancient faith, that when I treat of the Hebrew children, employed in cigars, there will be much to be detailed of which the public have little cognisance and little suspicion.

The cigars in question are bought (wholesale) in , , Ailie-street, Tenter-ground, in Goodman's-fields, and similar localities. The kinds in chief demand are Pickwicks, and per lb.; Cubas, ; common Havannahs and Bengal Cheroots, the same price; but the Bengal Cheroots are not uncommonly smuggled.

The best places for cigar-selling," one man stated, "I've always found to be out of town; about Greenwich and Shooter's Hill, and to the gents going to Kensington Gardens, and such like places. About the Eagle Tavern was good, too, as well as the streets leading to the Surrey Zoological —one could whisper, 'cheap cigar, sir, half what they'll charge you inside.' I've known young women treat their young men to cigars as they were going to Cremorne, or other public places; but there's next to no trade that way now, and hasn't been these five or six years. I don't know what stopped it exactly. I've heard it was shopkeepers that had licences, complaining of street people as hadn't, and so the police stopped the trade as much as they could.

At all the neighbouring races and fairs, and at any great gathering of people in town, cigars are sold, more with the affectation than the reality of its being done, "quite on the sly." The retail price is each, and for Some of the cheap cigars are made to run , and even as high as to the pound. A fuzee is often given into the bargain.

I am told that, on all favourable opportunities, there are still persons who vend cigars in the streets of London, while a greater number of "London hands" carry on the trade at Epsom and Ascot races. At other periods the business is all but a nonentity. To clear a week is considered "good work." At period, on every fine Sunday, there were not, I am assured, fewer than persons selling cigars in the open air in London and its suburbs.

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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