Open main menu

Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 9.djvu/21

This page needs to be proofread.


9*8. ix. JAN. *, MOB.] NOTES AND QUERIES.


balls and other sweets and such small dee paraded a circular tray furnished as describee by the REV. W. D. SWEETING, or with a

upright pillar rising from the centre, spirall

hollowed out within, with a capital represen ing a Turk's head roughly carved, in th hollow turban of which the gambler, o payment of a penny, had the privilege o depositing a marble which, rolling down th spiral, came to its rest in one of the hollows and on the inscription in this depended th investor's chance of receiving a supply of th displayed delicacies or of going empty anc copperless away. Those peripatetic vendor who were not provided with such gambling machinery were equally ready to sell thei wares without risk or to gratify the sporting instincts of those who preferred tossing to buying, and the humble penny or halfpenny would then suffice for the chance-deciding convenience.

Experto crede. I well remember the wan dering mutton pieman. At this hour his familiar chant comes to my ears "like an odour of brine from the ocean " might appea to another sense more especially as twilight deepened into gas-qualified night darkness "Pies all hot ! smoking hot ! hot mutton pies !' But then in the early fifties a good, grand motherly Government came in to take care of us and prevent our burying our own deac at our own street doors, and interfered with our British rights to poison our neighbours sure they had the right to poison us in their turn with our disdain of elementary sanitary mode of living, and swept away the tempta- tion to us to "make ducks and drakes" of what means we possessed by sending Inspector Forester and his merry men to raid the recognized gambling hells, and to swoop down upon the Bonifaces and their alluring sweepstake combinations ; and the men in blue at the same time harried the "dollies" and deluding pointing arrows out of the thoroughfares and shops, and the "coppers " sternly " ran in " the pieman and the sweet- seller who "skied" the current copper, not invariably without suspicion that the prin- ciple of " Heads I win, tails you lose," might be adroitly applied. And yet the British con- stitution has survived ! GNOMON.

Temple.

MR. F. G. KITTON would be right in as- suming that it was formerly customary for boys to toss the hot-pie man for his wares. But those itinerant traders, with their steam- ing tin "cans," have, through the so-called march of civilization and improvement, apparently long since disappeared at least in London and even the pie-shops once so


popular are now few and far between. This kind of gambling was, as I have always understood, done with coin on the palm of the hand and guessing whether "heads or tails " (otherwise " man or woman ") appeared uppermost, and. not with any instrument of chance, although I have frequently seen in use at pleasure fairs a somewhat similar con- trivance to that mentioned at the last refer- ence by the REV. W. D. SWEETING the "prizes" being of various kinds, and some- times pieces of cake, but never, to my know- ledge, pies, hot or cold. I well remember that about 1856-9, when, as a boy, I was home from boarding-school for the holidays, an old pieman used to go round the streets of Pimlico with small apple and other pies, in a basket on his arm, for disposal on the toss -or -buy system, the particular terms being that the intending purchaser, if win- ning the "toss," should have two for the price of one. This pieman was, of course, unable to cry " toss or buy," as he might have done with impunity in days of yore ; but the same was unnecessary, as his method of doing business was so well known locally. I may mention that another noted itinerant trader (but on cash terms) in the same neigh- bourhood at the time, and I believe until a much later date either there or elsewhere, was the brandy- ball man a somewhat younger individual, and more important, at [east in his own estimation who wore a sort of smoking cap with tassel and a white apron, and carried his commodities in front of him on a wooden tray suspended from his shoulders. Every now and again he an- nounced his approach in a sort of chant, ending with " Bran dy ball ! They 're all Drandy !" But those were not, as at present, the days of cheap sweets and small profits, and no'doubt he did well. Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis. W. I. R. V.

When I was a boy I was a prodigious con- sumer of pies, which were perambulated round the purlieus of Petticoat Lane by one Sam the Pieman, whose " Pie hot ! Pie nice, nice pie ! " resounded far and wide, and was a clarion call to the hundreds of boys in the great public seminary where I received my >rimary education. About twelve o'clock Sam would reach the great iron gates, owards which we all bounded pell-mell, houting and raving, and looking like so many >risoners behind the grill to any outside nlooker, and as fast as he could hand them brough the bars his mince and mutton pies ! ound ready customers. Sam was too honour- ble or shrewd ever to tempt any one of us o toss him for a pie. He was a merchant,