A group of ‘Pearlies’ from the 1900s. In the 19th century London was full of street traders known as costermongers or costers. In order to attract customers costers would decorate their clothes with mother of pearl buttons which were a common product manufactured in the East End of London. In the 1870s an orphaned road sweeper and rat catcher called Henry Croft took inspiration from this, covered a suit and top hat with pearl buttons and used the notoriety it gave him to raise money for…
Social trading: Before ebay, small businesses frequently moved door to door, establishing their credibility through the advocacy of their customers much like ebay does today. This photo is from Bishopsgate Institute and shows a street fishmonger whose business was along Whitechapel road in London. Taken in 1876 by photographer John Thompson.
There were around 30,000 street sellers (known as costermongers) in London, each selling his or her particular wares from a barrow or donkey-cart. These goods included oysters, pea soup, pies and puddings, sheep’s trotters, street-ices, as well as 2nd hand musical instruments, live birds and even birds nests. Image: A street seller of birds' nests, 1851
Joseph Carney, a street vendor or "costermonger", sells fresh herring from a barrow in a street market near Seven Dials. The character on the right holding a white pitcher was known locally as "Little Mic-Mac Gosling", as despite being 17 years-old, he was only three feet 10 inches high. Picture: 'Dickens's Victorian London' by Alex Werner and Tony Williams.
Henry Mahew's: Coster Boy & Girl Tossing the Pieman. To toss the pieman was a favourite pastime with costermonger’s boys. If the pieman won the toss, he received a penny without giving a pie, if he lost he handed it over for nothing.