The Oysterman: 1872

Gustave Doré

 
The Oysterman: 1872
4 0 c m
 
30cm
actual image size: 22cm x 27cm

Full image caption

Illustration of an oyster seller from 'London: a Pilgrimage' by Blanchard Jerrold and Gustave Doré, ' 1872. While oysters are seen as a luxury foodstuff today, they were more widely eaten in earlier centuries. Henry Mayhew in 'London Labour and the London Poor' (1861) records an interview with an elderly female oyster seller "who had seen better days". "As to my customers, sir", she said, "why, indeed, they're all sorts.... mostly working people and tradespeople". Mayhew estimated that the number of oysters sold by costermongers amounted to
124,000,000 a year. 'These, at four a penny, would realise the large sum of £129,650. We may therefore safely assume that
£125,000 is spent yearly in oysters in the streets of London'.

© Museum of London

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