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November 3, 2021

November Effigies, London, ca. 1870s

The accompanying photograph is that of a nondescript guy, somewhat clumsily built up by a costermonger who lives in the south-east of London.

(From Street Life in London, 1877, by John Thomson and Adolphe Smith)

This meaningless monstrosity, together with the absurd appearance of the man in woman’s clothes, amuses some persons, and the conductor of such an exhibition can hope to realize about thirty shillings the first day, a pound on the 6th of November, and ten or fifteen shillings on the 7th.

With this money the cost of getting up the guy must be refunded, and a shilling or eighteen pence per day given to the boys who help to swell the cortege. The boys’ share of the proceeds is consequently somewhat out of proportion with the time and cheers they devote to promoting the success of the enterprise; but it is argued that they enjoy the fun, while to their seniors the venture is attended with some risk, and is only considered as another form of labour for daily bread.


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