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More Of Samuel Pepys’ Cries Of London

March 25, 2013
by the gentle author

It was a startling delight when I discovered that Samuel Pepys shared my own interest in the Cries of London and made a collection of these prints which still exist in his library, preserved at Cambridge. These three thousand volumes in total, which Pepys had bound and catalogued according to his own system, can be seen as both an extension of and a complement to his personal writings – gathering together significant texts and images just as his diary recorded every detail of the life he knew.

The oldest set of Cries in Pepys’ collection – which I published here a month ago – dated from the sixteenth century and was a hundred years old when he acquired it, whereas those published today are believed to date from around 1640. Pepys described them as “A later Sett, in Wood – with the Words also then in use.”

Did Pepys look at these prints from his grandparents’ generation with nostalgia, imagining the hawkers that once populated the streets of the city before he was born, and wondering at how the world had changed? Spanning over a century and three different cities, Pepys’ collection of ephemeral prints are the only visual record of the street life of these places at these times to have survived.

By comparison with Pepys’ earliest sixteenth century set of crude woodcuts, these figures from 1640 possess a more complex humanity – though close examination reveals that the same models recur, posing in a variety of guises as different street vendors. Yet, in spite of this sense of enacted tableaux, there exists a convincing presence of personalities here, enough to permit me to imagine the street life of mid-seventeenth London, thanks to Samuel Pepys – my most esteemed predecessor in collecting the Cries of London.

Samuel Pepys’ book plate

Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

You may also like to take a look at the sixteenth century Cries of London from Samuel Pepys’ collection

Samuel Pepys’ Cries of London

and these other sets down through the ages

London Characters

Geoffrey Fletcher’s Pavement Pounders

Faulkner’s Street Cries

William Craig Marshall’s Itinerant Traders

London Melodies

Henry Mayhew’s Street Traders

H.W.Petherick’s London Characters

John Thomson’s Street Life in London

Aunt Busy Bee’s New London Cries

Marcellus Laroon’s Cries of London

John Player’s Cries of London

More John Player’s Cries of London

William Nicholson’s London Types

John Leighton’s London Cries

Francis Wheatley’s Cries of London

John Thomas Smith’s Vagabondiana of 1817

John Thomas Smith’s Vagabondiana II

John Thomas Smith’s Vagabondiana III

Thomas Rowlandson’s Lower Orders

More of Thomas Rowlandson’s Lower Orders

Victorian Tradesmen Scraps

Cries of London Scraps

New Cries of London 1803

Cries of London Snap Cards

Adam Dant’s  New Cries of Spittlefields

2 Responses leave one →
  1. annie permalink
    March 25, 2013

    What I find very interesting is how the spelling of words changes over time.

    How lucky we are that Mr Pepys kept all this information to be passed down in history!

  2. March 25, 2013

    These are a real find. Your blog is so interesting. I have added your link on my blog, Victorian Scribbles. ( )

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