London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Telescopes and Pocket Glasses.
IN the sale of -hand telescopes only man is now engaged in any extensive way, except on mere chance occasions. or years ago, I was informed, there was a considerable street sale in small telescopes at each. They were made at Birmingham, my informant believed, but were sold as -hand goods in London. Of this trade there is now no remains.
The principal seller of -hand telescopes takes a stand on or by the , and his customers, as he sells excellent "glasses," are mostly sea-faring men. He has sold, and still sells, telescopes from to each, the purchasers generally "trying" them, with strict examination, from , or on the Custom-House Quay. There are, in addition to this street-seller, and sometimes others, who offer telescopes to persons about the docks or wharfs, who may be going some voyage. These are as often new as -hand, but the secondhand articles are preferred. This, however, is a Jewish trade which will be treated of under another head.
An old opera-glass, or the smaller articles best known as "pocket-glasses," are occasionally hawked to public-houses and offered in the streets, but so little is done in them that I can obtain no statistics. A spectacle seller told me that he had once tried to sell -hand operaglasses at each, in the street, and then in the public-houses, but was laughed at by the people who were usually his customers. "Operaglasses!" they said, "why, what did they want with opera-glasses? wait until they had operaboxes." He sold the glasses at last to a shopkeeper.