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Cries Of London Woodcuts

September 5, 2015
by the gentle author

Alongside celebrated artists who drew Cries of London – Marcellus Laroon, Francis Wheatley, William Marshall Craig & John Thomas Smith – there is a parallel tradition of works by anonymous engravers who created sets of Cries for publication in broadsheets and chapbooks that were never going to find their way into frames on the parlour wall.

These anonymous works reveal acute observation and possess a vigorous graphic quality which is just as appealing as their more celebrated counterparts and sometimes more effective in communicating the drama of the street. This series which I came across in the Bishopsgate Institute this week while seeking images for my forthcoming book on the Cries of London is a fine example.

Live Fowls!


Knives to Grind!




Old Hats!

Sweet Lavender!


Hair Brooms!


Flowers, All A-Blowing!

Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

Accompanying my book of Cries of London published on 12th November, Bishopsgate Institute is staging a festival around the history and politics of markets and street trading, and Spitalfields Music is opening its Winter Festival with a concert of Cries of London by Fretwork on 4th December at Shoreditch Church.

If  you are interested in investing in my book, you can learn more here

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. September 5, 2015

    The woodcuts are wonderful, so much attention to detail, Valerie

  2. September 5, 2015

    I like the gritty quality of these engravings. Scrolling through them, the opening lines of ‘Who will buy this wonderful morning’ flashed into my head. Fancying a listen, I found this on YouTube: The part of Oliver is sung by Dennis Waterman. Stanley Holloway, Alma Cogan and Violet Carson get top billing in this 1961 recording of Bart’s musical masterpiece.

  3. Teresa Stokes permalink
    September 5, 2015

    I have always been fascinated by “Cries of London” ever since my grandmother had a set of table mats featuring some Victorian cries. It also intrigues me to see so many people carrying huge loads on their heads, as in “Earthenware” here, and until I saw this in the old Cries of London pictures I had always assumed, as most people probably do, that this is a special skill only occurring in India and Africa where people still carry things on their heads today.

  4. September 5, 2015

    I especially like the woman apprehensively sniff the goose!

  5. Stephen Barker permalink
    September 7, 2015

    Teresa, Market porters at Covent Garden used to carry stacks of baskets containing produce on their heads, they wore a specially designed hat to support the baskets.

  6. Teresa Stokes permalink
    September 7, 2015

    Stephen Barker: Yes, I have seen some incredible pictures of the Covent Garden men with very tall stacks of baskets balanced impossibly on their heads, but I don’t think I have ever seen anyone in this country doing anything like this during my lifetime. For my own amusement I have downloaded all the pictures I could find from various Cries of London depicting people carrying things on their heads – but only those where they are not using their hands to help! Found 25 like that so far.

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