London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2
Of the Street-Sellers of Old Hats.
THE street-sellers of old coats, waistcoats, and trousers, and of boots and shoes, whose statements precede this account, confined their trade, generally, to the -hand merchandize I have mentioned as more especially constituting their stock. But this arrangement does not wholly prevail. There are many street-traders "in -hand," perhaps -thirds of the whole number, who sell indiscriminately anything which they can buy, or what they hope to turn out an advantage; but even they prefer to deal more in particular kind of merchandize than another, and this is most of all the case as concerns the street-sale of old boots and shoes. Hats, however, are among the -hand wares which the street-seller rarely vends unconnected with other stock. I was told that this might be owing to the hats sold in the streets being usually suitable only for class, grown men; while clothes and boots and shoes are for boys as well as men. Caps may supersede the use of hats, but nothing can supersede the use of boots or shoes, which form the -hand street-trade of any.
There are, however, occasions, when a streetseller exerts himself to become possessed of a cheap stock of hats, by the well-known process of "taking a quantity," and sells them without, or with but a small admixture of other goods. man who had been lately so occupied, gave me the following account. He was of Irish parentage, but there was little distinctive in his accent:—