In the 17th and 18th centuries, the streets of London were full of people selling their wares to anyone passing by. To get themselves noticed, the sellers would invent cries, which were often elaborate rhymes which they hoped would attract customers. Many of these are now lost to history, but I found some accompanying a selection of printed woodcuts.
My game are round and fat you see,
If on the price we can agree:
These ducks but one day since were shot,
And suit alike the spit or pot.
Or if for game you’re not inclin’d,
Here is a chicken to your mind.
Here is spice-cake for those good boys,
Who better love their books than toys;
And little girls may have their share,
As often as they sew with care:
Here he comes! his basket smokes;
BUY SOME SPICE, good little folks.
Here little girls will doubtless find
What cannot fail to please their mind;
Bedsteads of every size the best,
On which their painted dolls may rest:
And ‘tis but right that you should grant,
What you yourself so often want.
Alive and fresh, good herrings oh!
Six a groat, is cheap, you know.
Off Britain’s coast they late were caught,
And in a ship but just now brought.
If Mrs. Cook will dress them well,
Of their goodness you will tell;
Or if, to salt them you’re inclin’d,
There’s not a doubt they’ll suit your mind.
Nice mutton dumplings! smoking hot,
And just brought boiling from the pot:
Take my word, they are very good;
Besides, they make substantial food.
Consider now the price of meat,
And you’ll say they are also cheap.
Old shoes! old hats! come little dear,
To hear me cry you need not fear;
There’s difference great between us two,
I always cry but seldom you,
And you cry tears I should suppose,
While I cry nothing but old Cloaths.