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"Mush-Fakers" and Ginger-Beer Makers

"Mush-Fakers" and Ginger-Beer Makers

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Summary

From 'Street Life in London', 1877, by John Thomson and Adolphe Smith:..“At Clapham Common - where the accompanying photograph was taken - Hampstead, Greenwich, Battersea Park, etc etc, on a broiling summer's day, there is a great demand for light, refreshing drinks, and more than £ I may be taken during one day by those who have a sufficient supply of ginger-beer with them, or some friend who can bring a fresh stock in the course of the afternoon. In ordinary times, however, twenty shillings a week net profit is considered a very fair reward for selling ginger-beer in the streets. Apart from the very hot days, and the pleasure-g rounds around the metropolis, the best time and place for the sale is near the closed public-houses on a Sunday morning. The enormous number of persons who have spent their Saturday evening and wages in getting lamentably drunk, come out in the morning •with their throats parched and are glad of anything that will relieve the retributive thirst from which they suffer. Ginger-beer, under these circumstances, is particularly effective in restoring tone and mitigating the consequences of intemperance; and these are facts which readily account for the large sales effected on Sunday mornings.”.[…].“The real "mush-fakers" are men who not only sell, but can mend and make umbrellas. Wandering from street to street, with a bundle of old umbrellas and a few necessary tools under their arm, they inquire for umbrellas to mend from house to house. When their services are accepted, they have two objects in view. First, having obtained an umbrella to mend, they prefer sitting out doing the work in the street, in front of the house. This attracts the attention of the neighbours, and the fact that they have been entrusted with work by the inhabitants of one house generally brings more custom from those who live next door. When the job is terminated, the “mush-faker " looks about him, as he enters the house, in quest of an umbrella which has passed the mending stage ; and, in exchange for the same, offers to make a slight reduction in his charge. Thus he gradually obtains a stock of very old umbrellas, and by taking the good bits from one old "mushroom” and adding it to another, he is able to make, out of two broken and torn umbrellas, a tolerably stout and serviceable gingham...For the full story, and other photographs and commentaries, follow this link and click through to the PDF file at the bottom of the description.archives.lse.ac.uk/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&i... ( http://archives.lse.ac.uk/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=SR+1146 )

Victorian Times London. Victoria was born May 24, 1819, Kensington Palace, London, United Kingdom, and was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death, January 22, 1901,

The project “Street Life in London’ was created in 19th century by the radical journalist Adolphe Smith and the photographer John Thomson. The monthly magazine, that was publishing from 1876 to 1877 included texts and images of people on the London’s streets. That was a new genre of social documentary photography, which preceded the appearance of photojournalism. Their work captured the life of ordinary people who eked out a precarious and marginal existence. There were shoe-blacks, chair-caners, musicians, flower-sellers, and many others. The interest to the urban poverty gives the authors the reputation of the pioneers in photojournalism and their project now considered as a classic instance of social documentary. Later, in 1878, the photographs were published in book form. The verses of this book were scanned and now stored in British Library of Political and Economic Science, which is located in London. John Thomson was a talented and influential photographer, who had spent ten years travelling in, and taking photographs of, the Far East. On his return to London he joined with Adolphe Smith, a socialist journalist, in a project to photograph the street life of the London poor. The volumes were published in monthly parts as Street Life in London, and were an early example of social and documentary photography. Street Life in London, published in 1876-7, consists of a series of articles by the radical journalist Adolphe Smith and the photographer John Thomson. The pieces are short but full of detail, based on interviews with a range of men and women who eked out a precarious and marginal existence working on the streets of London, including flower-sellers, chimney-sweeps, shoe-blacks, chair-caners, musicians, dustmen and locksmiths.

date_range

Date

1877
place

Location

Rookery Rd, London SW4, UK51.45989, -0.14392
Google Map of 51.45988888888889, -0.14391944444444443
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Source

LSE Library
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