London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2
The class of which I have now to treat, including as it does the street-sellers of coal, coke, tanturf, salt, and sand, seem to have been called into existence principally by the necessities of the poorer classes. As the earnings of thousands of men, in all the slop, "slaughter-house," or "scamping" branches of tailoring, shoemaking, cabinet-making, joining, &c. have become lower and lower, they are compelled to purchase the indispensable articles of daily consumption in the smallest quantities, and at irregular times, just as the money is in their possession. This is more especially the case as regards chamber-masters and garret-masters (among the shoemakers) and cabinet-makers, who, as they are small masters, and working on their own account, have not even such a regularity of payment as the journeyman of the slop-tailor. Among these poor artizans, moreover, the wife must slave with the husband, and it is often an object with them to save the time lost in going out to the chandler'sshop or the coal-shed, to have such things as coal, and coke brought to their very doors, and vended in the smallest quantities. It is the same with the women who work for the slop-shirt merchants, &c., or make cap-fronts, &c., on their own account, for the supply of the shopkeepers, or the wholesale swag-men, who sell low-priced millinery. The street-sellers of the class I have now to notice are, then, the principal purveyors of the very poor.
The men engaged in the street-sale of coal and coke—the chief articles of this branch of the street-sale—are of the costermonger class, as, indeed, is usually the case where an exercise of bodily strength is requisite. Costermongers, too, are better versed than any other street-folk in the management of barrows, carts, asses, ponies, or horses, so that when these vehicles and these animals are a necessary part of any open-air business, it will generally be found in the hands of the coster class.
Nor is this branch of the street-traffic confined solely to articles of necessity. Under my present enumeration will be found the street-sale of , an ornament of the mantel-piece above the firegrate to which coal is a necessity.
The present division will complete the subject of Street in the metropolis.