18th Century English Street Ballads


These eight broadsides are specimens of the street literature read and sung by the poor and lower classes of the 18th century England. They are also excellent specimens of printing of that time period. Holding a sheet under the light shows chain lines, wire lines and some have a watermark, all characteristics of laid paper--paper that was hand made in a mould or frame.  Street ballads were sold by street hawkers, generally for a halfpenny or a penny a sheet. A useful book about street ballads is John Pitts, ballad Printer of Seven Dials, London, 1865-1844 by Leslie Shepard (Z232.Z65 S5).

Images with titles are listed below

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O Dear! What Can the Matter Be?
Published July 20, 1793 by C. Sheppard;
[London:] No. 15 St. St Peters Hill, Doctors Commons.
Smiling Kate.
Published Feb.1, 1796 by C. Sheppard,
No.74 Little Britain, London.
The Sequel to Maria, the Unfortunate Fair.
Sold by C. Sheppard, [London:] Lambeth Hill,
Doctors Commons; Sold by J. Pitts, Great St. Andrew; [n.d.].
-Note the humorous commentary on the illustration
Neighbour Sly;
This is the only one of the broadsides with no imprint data.
The Sailor Purser.
Published as the Ad directs, June 1, 1788 by J. Cole. No. 18 FORE Street LONDON.
-Note how the imprint data appears to be printed over previous printing.
Carrion Crow.
Oct. 14, 1790; Published by C, Sheppard, [London:]
Lambeth Hill, Doctors Commons.  This ballad goes back to at least 50 years prior to this printing.
-Note the green tint in the paper. It might be due to age, but some printers added a green tint to their paper.
Mr. Edwins New Four and Twenty Fidler's.
Sold by C. Sheppard, Lambeth Hill; [n.d.]
-Note the caption on the illustration, "O How I Hate All Male Creatures."
Sweet Mog the Brunette.
Sold by C. Sheppard, Lambeth Hill; [n.d.]