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Cries of London

The ‘Cries of London’ have gone now but they cling on in the images of hawkers, milkmaids, flower sellers, tinkers, rag & bone men, fishmongers, gingerbread sellers, fruit vendors, furniture menders, and the providers of many other goods and services. Original prints are still to be found on print stalls and in antiquarian bookshops and modern reproductions appear on plates, mugs, place mats, cigarette cards, playing cards and, for all we know, T-shirts. The likes of Hogarth, Cruikshank, Wheatley, and Rowlandson, and many lesser artists produced sets of them. In many ways they were a gift to artists and publishers looking for a subject which would sell in sets. They do tell us a lot about working life in those days.

To announce themselves the criers had traditional calls and many of them wore identifying clothes. The whole business was well within ‘folk’ parameters. The only thing is that the girls can’t all have been so fantastically pretty and so well attired in new Laura Ashley dresses or the men so neat and tidy and honest looking. Furthermore the rhyming cries must surely have folk-processed to raucous bellows. Collections can remember the days when London had three evening papers, Star, News and Standard, which came out of the mouth of the guy selling them outside Holborn tube station as ‘STARNOOSTAN!!!’

Be that as it may the EFDSS has a couple of ‘Cries of London’ books in their library, so here is a small selection from them...