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The Cries Of London

December 6, 2013
by the gentle author

It is my delight to show you the latest addition to my collection – this tiny anonymous pamphlet no larger than a folded banknote entitled simply THE CRIES OF LONDON. More than two centuries old, it is one of innumerable publications on this subject down through the ages and consequently only of little monetary worth. Yet, to me, this shabby rag is one of my favourites in the series because of the modesty of its production. The stained pages evidence its fond usage by those who, once upon a time, actually saw these mythic characters upon the streets of London.

You may also like to take a look at these other sets of the Cries of London

John Player’s Cries of London

More John Player’s Cries of London

Faulkner’s Street Cries

Samuel Pepys’ Cries of London

More Samuel Pepys’ Cries of London

Kendrew’s Cries of London

London Characters

Geoffrey Fletcher’s Pavement Pounders

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

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

Julius M Price’s London Types

Adam Dant’s  New Cries of Spittlefields

16 Responses leave one →
  1. December 6, 2013

    We’ve got plenty of dust. Shame nobody collects it round here.

  2. SBW permalink
    December 6, 2013

    Thank you; this ‘shabby rag’ is indeed a treasure. sbw

  3. December 6, 2013

    The little book is a treasure, thanks for sharing the pictures. Valerie

  4. December 6, 2013

    That head-hat of live Lobsters must have been a sight to see

  5. Stephen Barker permalink
    December 6, 2013

    I envy you the possession of the above booklet, it is a very attractive combination of images and print. As some of the food items would be seasonal I wonder what the vendors sold at other times of the year?

  6. Ros permalink
    December 6, 2013

    can quite understand why you love this little book – I can just see those people and hear their cries. The beautiful woodcuts, if that’s what they are, absolutely bring them alive.

  7. December 6, 2013

    I remember as a small boy hearing the ‘rag and bone’ man call out from his horse and cart. On a recent trip to old town Dhaka in Bangladesh I heard lots of different cries from individuals selling or offering services.

  8. Deborah Fyrth permalink
    December 6, 2013

    Utterly charming. I remember my Grandad reciting this ditty:
    Old chairs to mend, old chairs to mend
    If I’d all the money I could spend
    I wouldn’t cry old chairs to mend

  9. Annie permalink
    December 6, 2013

    I concur about the lobster hat! Plus the man wearing all the old clothes at once. I wonder if this was something to teach children to read? It is charming and poignant. And elegant. Thank you for sharing this treasure.

  10. Rebecca permalink
    December 6, 2013

    Oh my goodness, this is the best yet! — not only are images full of life, but the language is sprightly too.
    Being on the New England seacoast, I love the notion of walking around with a basket of lively lobsters on my head.

  11. December 6, 2013

    I remember an old bloke going around mending chairs when I was a child in the mid sixties. And, of course, the rag and bone man shouting ‘Any old iron?’ from a horse drawn cart. My favourite of these criers is the dustman because the name lingers on even in these days of recycling. A wonderful find.

  12. Jenny Atkins permalink
    December 8, 2013

    In the early 1970’s I livd on the Isle of Dogs for a few years. Even then the knife grinder still came around with his small portable grinder singing in a lovely song song voice, “Any knives to grind, get your scissors sharpened”. I can still hear him now.

  13. Classof65 permalink
    December 10, 2013

    Wish someone would come sharpen my knives today! Or that I had a woven chair that needed mending… wouldn’t it be fun to watch someone repair our chair?

    Two hundred years ago someone put this pamphlet away for safe-keeping. Wish they had known how much we would appreciate their action.

  14. Nick Basden permalink
    January 15, 2018

    Do you know if the dust was brick dust?

  15. July 14, 2022

    Wonderful peek into the distant past, so glad to find this

  16. Ian Hunt permalink
    July 1, 2023

    Thank you for this wonderful collection of Street Cries. The poet Marjorie Welish published, in 1991, a group of poems called ‘Some Street Cries’ — in The Windows Flew Open. Her own variations on this extraordinfary form of public poetry — here’s part of one:

    Give a sphere new life
    by ruling it with lines of evergreen
    I promise you ink that branches and conceives!
    I promise you all of utility!
    I promise you black freshets and gray,
    a few drops are all you need, ladies!

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