In 1851 the social explorer Henry Mayhew counted thirty-seven street markets in London. These periodic gatherings of costermongers and street sellers sold fruit, vegetables, fish and a great range of other commodities from barrows and stalls in the open air, especially on Saturday nights:
The sights, as you elbow your way through the crowd, are … multifarious. Here is a stall glittering with new tin saucepans; there another, bright with its blue and yellow crockery, and sparkling with white glass. Now you come to a row of old shoes arranged along the pavement … This stall is green and white with bunches of turnips – that red with apples, the next yellow with onions, and another purple with pickling cabbages … Go to whatever corner of the metropolis you please … and there is the same shouting and the same struggling to get the penny profit out of the poor man’s Sunday dinner....
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