London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2

Mayhew, Henry


Income, or "Takings," of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand articles.


We have now to estimate the receipts of each of the above-mentioned classes.

 Street-Sellers of Second-hand Metal Wares. 
   £ s. d. 
 I was told by several in this trade that there were 200 old metal sellers in the streets, but, from the best information at my command, not more than 50 appear to be strictly street- sellers, unconnected with shopkeeping. Estimating a weekly receipt, per individual, of 15s. (half being profit), the yearly street outlay among this body amounts to . . 1,950 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Second-hand Metal-Trays, &c. 
 Calculating that 20 persons take in the one or two nights' sale 4s. a week each, on second-hand trays (33 per cent. being the rate of profit), the street expenditure amounts yearly to 208 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of other Second-hand Metal Articles, as Italian and Flat Irons, &c. 
 There are, I am informed, 20 persons selling Italian and flat irons regularly throughout the year in the streets of London; each takes upon an average 6s. weekly, which gives an annual expenditure of upwards of 312 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Second-hand Linen, &c. 
 There are at present 30 men and women who sell towelling and canvas wrappers in the streets on Saturday and Monday nights, each taking in the sale of those articles 9s. per week, thus giving an annual outlay of . . . . . . . . . . . . 702 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Second-hand (burnt) Linen and Calico. 
 The most intelligent man whom I met with in this trade calculated that there were 80 of these second-hand street-folk plying their trade two nights in the week; and that they took 8s. each weekly, about half of it being profit; thus the annual street expenditure would be . . . . 1,664 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Second-hand Curtains. 
 From the best data at my command there are 30 individuals who are engaged in the street-sale of secondhand curtains, and reckoning the weekly takings of each to be 5s., we find the yearly sum spent in the streets upon second-hand curtains amounts to 390 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Second-hand Carpeting, Flannels, Stocking-legs, &c. 
 I am informed that the same persons selling curtains sell also second-hand carpeting, &c.; their weekly average takings appear to be about 6s. each in the sale of the above articles, thus we have a yearly outlay of . . . . 468 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Second-hand Bed-ticking, Sacking, Fringe, &c. 
 The street-sellers of curtains, carpeting, &c., of whom there are 30, are also the street-sellers of bedtick- ing, sacking, fringe, &c. Their weekly takings for the sale of these articles amount to 4s. each. Hence we find that the sum spent yearly in the streets upon the purchase of bedtick- ing, &c., amounts to . . . . . 312 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Second-hand Glass and Crockery. 
 Calculating that each of the six dealers takes 12s. weekly, with a profit of 6s. or 7s., we find there is annually expended in this department of street-commerce . . . . . . 187 4 0 
 Street-Sellers of Second-hand Miscellaneous Articles. 
 From the best data I have been able to obtain, it appears that there are five street-sellers engaged in the sale of these second-hand articles of amusement, and the receipts of the whole are 10l. weekly, about half being profit, thus giving a yearly expenditure of . . . . . . . . 520 0 0 
 Street-Sellers and Duffers of Second-hand Music. 
 A broker who was engaged in this traffic estimated—and an intelligent street-seller agreed in the computation —that, take the year through, at least 25 individuals are regularly, but few of them fully, occupied with this traffic, and that their weekly takings average 30s. each, or an aggregate yearly amount of 1950l. The weekly profits run from 10s. to 15s., and sometimes the well-known dealers clear 40s. or 50s. a week, while others do not take 5s. . . . . . . 1,950 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Second-hand Weapons. 
 In this traffic it may be estimated, I am assured, that there are 20 men engaged, each taking, as an average, 1l. a week. In some weeks a man may take 5l.; in the next month he may sell no weapons at all. From 30 to 50 per cent. Is the usual rate of profit, and the yearly street outlay on these second-hand offensive or defensive weapons is . . . . . . . . 1,040 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Second-hand Curiosities. 
 There are not now more than six men who carry on this trade apart from other commerce. Their average takings are 15s. weekly each man, about two-thirds being profit, or early . . . . . . . . . . 234 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Second-hand Telescopes and Pocket-Glasses. 
 There are only six men at present engaged in the sale of telescopes and pocket-glasses, and their weekly average takings are 30s. each, giving a yearly expenditure in the streets of 468 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of other Second-hand Miscellaneous Articles. 
 If we reckon that there are 30 street-sellers carrying on a traffic in second-hand miscellaneous articles, and that each takes 10s. weekly, we find the annual outlay in the streets upon these articles amounts to . . 780 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Men's Second-hand Clothes. 
 The street-sale of men's secondhand wearing apparel is carried on principally by the Irish and others. From the best information I can gather, there appear to be upwards of 1200 old clothes men buying left-off apparel in the metropolis, one-third of whom are Irish. There are, however, not more than 100 of these who sell in the streets the articles they collect; the averagetakings of each of the sellers are about 20s. weekly, their trading being chiefly on the Saturday nights and Sunday mornings. Their profits are from 50 to 60 per cent. Estimating the number of sellers at 100, and their weekly takings at 20s. each, we have an annual expenditure of 5,200 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Second-hand Boots and Shoes. 
 There are at present about 30 individuals engaged in the street-sale of second-hand boots and shoes of all kinds; some take as much as 30s. weekly, while others do not take more than half that amount; their profits being about 50 per cent. Reckoning that the weekly average takings are 20s. each, we have a yearly expenditure on second-hand boots and shoes of . . . . . 1,560 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Second-hand Hats. 
 Throughout the year there are not more than 15 men constantly "working" this branch of streettraffic. The average weekly gains of each are about 10s., and in order to clear that sum they must take 20s. Hence the gross gains of the class will be 390l. per annum, while the sum yearly expended in the streets upon second-hand hats will amount altogether to . . . . . 780 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Women's Second-hand Apparel. 
 The number of persons engaged in the street-sale of women's secondhand apparel is about 50, each of whom take, upon an average, 15s. per week; one-half of this is clear gain. Thus we find the annual outlay in The Bone--Grubber. [From a Daguerreotype by Beard. the streets upon women's second-hand apparel is no less than . . . . 1,950 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Second-hand Bonnets. 
 There are at present 30 persons (nearly one-half of whom are milliners, and the others street-sellers) who sell second-hand straw and other bonnets; some of these are placed in an umbrella turned upside down, while others are spread upon a wrapper on the stones. The average takings of this class of street-sellers are about 12s. each per week, and their clear gains not more than one-half, thus giving a yearly expenditure of . . . . . 936 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Second-hand Furs. 
 During five months of the year there are as many as 8 or 12 persons who sell furs in the street-markets on Saturday nights, Sunday mornings, and Monday nights. The weekly average takings of each is about 12s., nearly three-fourths of which is clear profit. Reckoning that 10 individuals are engaged 20 weeks during the year, and that each of these takes weekly 12s., we find the sum annually expended in the streets on furs amounts to . . . . . . . . 120 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Second-hand Articles in Smithfield-market. 
 I am informed, by those who are in a position to know, that there are sold on an average every year in Smithfield-market about 624 sets of harness, at 14s. per set; 1560 collars, at 2s. each; 686 pads, at 1s. each; 1560 saddles, at 5s. each; 936 bits, at 6d. each; 520 pair of wheels, at 10s. per pair; 624 pair of springs, at 8s. 4d. per pair; 832 pair of trestles, at 2s. 6d. per pair; 520 boards, at 4s. each; 1820 barrows, at 25s. each; 312 trucks, at 50s. each; 208 trays, at 1s. 3d. each; 1040 small carts, at 63s. each; 156 goat-carriages, at 20s. each; 520 shooting-galleries, at 14s. each; 312 guns for shooting-galleries, at 10s. each; 1040 drums for costers, at 3s. each; 2080 measures, at 3d. each; 2080 pair of large scales, at 5s. per pair; 2080 pair of handscales, at 5d. per pair; 30 roasted chestnut-apparatus, at 20s. each; 100 ginger-beer trucks, at 30s. each; 20 eel-kettles, at 5s. each; 100 potatocans, at 17s. each; 10 pea-soup cans, at 5s. each; 40 elderwine vessels, at 8s. each; gring a yearly expenditure of . . . . . . . . . 10,242 3 8 
 Street-Sellers of Dogs (Fancy Pets). 
 From the best data it appears that each hawker sells "four or five occasionally in one week in the summer, when trade's brisk and days are long, and only two or three the next week, when trade may be flat, and during each week in winter, when there isn't the same chance." Calculating, then, that seven dogs are sold by each hawker in a fortnight, at an average price of 50s. each (many fetch 3l., 4l., and 5l.), and supposing that but 20 men are trading in this line the year through, we find that no less a sum is yearly expended in this street-trade than . . 9,100 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Sporting Dogs. 
 The amount "turned over" in the trade in sporting dogs yearly, in London, is computed by the best informed at about . . . . . . . . 12,000 0 0 
 Street-Sellers and Duffers of Live Birds. (English). 
 There are in the metropolis 200 street-sellers of English birds, who may be said to sell among them 7000 linnets, at 3d. each; 3000 bullfinches, at 2s. 6d. each; 400 piping bullfinches, at 63s. each; 7000 goldfinches, at 9d. each; 1500 chaffinches, at 2s. 6d. each; 700 greenfinches, at 3d. each; 6000 larks, at 1s. each; 200 nightingales, at 1s. each; 600 redbreasts, at 1s. each; 3500 thrushes and thrustles, at 2s. 6d. each; 1400 blackbirds, at 2s. 6d. each; 1000 canaries, at 1s. each; 10,000 sparrows, at 1d. each; 1500 starlings, at 1s. 6d. each; 500 magpies and jackdaws, at 9d. each; 300 redpoles, at 9d. each; 150 blackcaps, at 4d. each; 2000 "duffed," birds, at 2s. 6d. each. Thus making the sum annually expended in the purchase of birds in the streets, amount to . . . . . . . . 3,624 12 2 
 Street-Sellers of Parrots, &c. 
 The number of individuals at present hawking parrots and other foreign birds in the streets is 10, who sell among them during the year about 500 birds. Reckoning each bird to sell at 1l., we find the annual outlay upon parrots bought in the streets to be 500l.; adding to this the sale of 110 Java sparrows and St. Helena birds, as Wax-bills and Red-beaks at 1s. 6d. each, we have for the sum yearly expended in the streets on the sale of foreign birds . . . . . . 508 5 0 
 Street-Sellers of Birds'--Nests. 
 There are at present only three persons hawking birds'--nests, &c., in the streets during the season, which lasts from May to August; these street-sellers sell among them 400 nests, at 2 1/2d. each; 144 snakes, at 1s. 6d. each; 4 hedgehogs, at 1s. each; and about 2s.'s worth of snails. This makes the weekly income of each amount to about 8s. 6d. during a period of 12 weeks in the summer, and the sum annually expended on these articles to come to . . . . 15 6 0 
 Street-Sellers of Squirrels. 
 For five months of the year there are 20 men selling squirrels in the streets, at from 20 to 50 per cent. profit, and averaging a weekly sale of six each. The average price is from 2s. to 2s. 6d. Thus 2400 squirrels are vended yearly in the streets, at a cost to the public of . . . . . 240 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Leverets, Wild Rabbits, &c. 
 During the year there are about six individuals exposing for sale in the streets young hares and wild rabbits. These persons sell among them 300 leverets, at 1s. 6d. each; and 400 young wild-rabbits, at 4d. each, giving a yearly outlay of . . . . . . 29 3 4 
 Street-Sellers of Gold and Silver Fish. 
 If we calculate, in order to allow for the cessation of the trade during the winter, and often in the summer when costermongering is at its best, that but 35 gold-fish sellers hawk in the streets and that for but half a year, each selling six dozen weekly, at 12s. the dozen, we find 65,520 fish sold, at an outlay of . . . . . . . 3,276 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Tortoises. 
 Estimating the number of individuals selling tortoises to be 20, and the number of tortoises sold to be 10,000, at an average price of 8d. each, we find there is expended yearly upon these creatures upwards of . . 333 6 8 
 Street-Sellers of Snails, Frogs, &c. 
 There are 14 snail gatherers, and they, on an average, gather six dozen quarts each in a year, which supplies a total of 12,096 quarts of snails. The labourers in the gardens, I am informed, gather somewhat more than an equal quantity, the greater part being sold to the bird-shops; so that altogether the supply of snails for the caged thrushes and blackbirds of London is about two millions and a half. Computing them at 24,000 quarts, and at 2d. a quart, the annual outlay is 200l. Besides snails, there are collected annually 500 frogs and 18 toads, at 1d. each, giving a yearly expenditure of . . . . . . . 202 3 2 
 Street-Sellers of Coals. 
 The number of individuals engaged in the street-sale of coals is 210; these distribute 2940 tons of coals weekly, giving an annual trade of 152,880 tons, at 1l. per ton, and consequently a yearly expenditure by the poor of . . . . . . . 152,880 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Coke. 
 The number of individuals engaged in the street-sale of coke is 1500; and the total quantity of coke sold annually in the streets is computed at about 1,400,000 chaldrons. These are purchased at the gas factories at an average price of 8s. per chaldron. Reckoning that this is sold at 4s. per chaldron for profit, we find that the total gains of the whole class amount to 280,000l. per annum, and their gross annual takings to . . . 840,000 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Tan-Turf. 
 The number of tan-turf sellers in the metropolis is estimated at 14; each of these dispose of, upon an average, 20,000 per week, during the year; selling them at 1s. per hundred, and realizing a profit of 4 1/2d. for each hundred. This makes the annual outlay in the street-sale of the above article amount to . . 7,280 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Salt. 
 There are at present 150 individuals hawking salt in the several streets of London; each of these pay at the rate of 2s. per cwt. for the salt, and retail it at 3 lbs. for 1d., which leaves 1s. 1d. profit on every cwt. One day with another, wet and dry, each of the street-sellers disposes of about 2 1/2 cwt., or 18 tons 15 cwt. per day for all hands, and this, deducting Sundays, makes 5868 tons 15 cwt. in the course of the year. The profit of 1s. 1d. per cwt amounts to a yearly aggregate proft of 6357l. 16s. 3d., or about 42l. per annum for each person in he trade; while the sum annually expended upon this article in the steets amounts to . . . . . . 18,095 6 3 
 Street-Sellers of Sand. 
 Calculating the sale at a load of sand per day, for each horse and cart, at 21s. per load, we find the sum annually expended in house- sand to be 6573l.; adding to this the sum of 234l. spent yearly in bird-sand, the total street-expenditure is . 6,807 0 0 
 Street-Sellers of Shells. 
 There are about 50 individuals disposing of shells at different periods of the year. These sell among them 1,000,000 at 1d. each, giving an annual expenditure of . . . . 4,166 13 4 
 River-Sellers of Purl. 
 There are at present 35 men following the trade of purl-selling on the river Thames to colliers. The weekly profits of this class amount to 117l. 5s. per week, and yearly to 6097l., while their annual takings is . . . . 8,190 0 0 



Now, adding together the above and the other foregone results, we arrive at the following estimate as to the amount of money annually expended on the several articles purchased in the streets of the metropolis.

 "Wet" fish . . . . £ 1,177,200 £ 
 Dry fish . . . . . 127,000   
 Shell fish . . . . . 156,600   
 Fish of all kinds . .   £ 1,460,800 
 Vegetables . . . . £ 292,400   
 Green fruit . . . . 332,200   
 Dry fruit . . . . . 1,000   
 Fruit and Vegetables . . . . 625,600 
 Game, poultry, rabbits, &c. . . . 80,000 
 Flowers, roots, &c. . . . . . . 14,800 
 Water-cresses . . . . . . . . 13,900 
 Chickweed, gru'nsel, and turf for birds 14,570 
 Eatables and drinkables . . . . . 203,100 
 Stationery, literature, and fine arts . 33,400 
 Manufactured articles . . . . . 188,200 
 Second-hand articles . . . . . 29,900 
 Live animals (including dogs, birds, and gold fish) . . . . . . . 29,300 
 Mineral productions (as coals, coke, salt, sand, &c.) . . . . . . 1,022,700 

Hence it appears that the street-sellers, of all ages, in the metropolis are about in number—their stock-in-trade is worth about —and their gross annual takings or receipts amount to no less than millions and a half sterling.

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 Title Page
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Live Animals
Of the Street-Sellers of Mineral Productions and Natural Curiosities
Of the Street-Buyers
Of the Street-Jews
Of the Street-Finders or Collectors
Of the Streets of London
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Sweepers of Old, and the Climbing Boys
Of the Chimney-Sweepers of the Present Day
Of the General Characteristics of the Working Chimney-Sweepers
Sweeping of the Chimneys of Steam-Vessels
Of the 'Ramoneur' Company
Of the Brisk and Slack Seasons, and the Casual Trade among the Chimney- Sweepers
Of the 'Leeks' Among the Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Inferior Chimney-Sweepers -- the 'Knullers' and 'Queriers'
Of the Fires of London
Of the Sewermen and Nightmen of London
Of the Wet House-Refuse of London
Of the Means of Removing the Wet House-Refuse
Of the Quantity of Metropolitan Sewage
Of Ancient Sewers
Of the Kinds and Characteristics of Sewers
Of the Subterranean Character of the Sewers
Of the House-Drainage of the Metropolis as Connected With the Sewers
Of the London Street-Drains
Of the Length of the London Sewers and Drains
Of the Cost of Constructing the Sewers and Drains of the Metropolis
Of the Uses of Sewers as a Means of Subsoil Drainage
Of the City Sewerage
Of the Outlets, Ramifications, Etc., of the Sewers
Of the Qualities, Etc., of the Sewage
Of the New Plan of Sewerage
Of the Management of the Sewers and the Late Commissions
Of the Powers and Authority of the Present Commissions of Sewers
Of the Sewers Rate
Of the Cleansing of the Sewers -- Ventilation
Of 'Flushing' and 'Plonging,' and Other Modes of Washing the Sewers
Of the Working Flushermen
Of the Rats in the Sewers
Of the Cesspoolage and Nightmen of the Metropolis
Of the Cesspool System of London
Of the Cesspool and Sewer System of Paris
Of the Emptying of the London Cesspools by Pump and Hose
Statement of a Cesspool-Sewerman
Of the Present Disposal of the Night-Soil
Of the Working Nightmen and the Mode of Work