London: Chatto & Windus Piccadilly, 1888.
First Edition. Hardcover. From the dancing sailor adorning its front cover in gilt to the 56 woodcuts illustrating its ballads within, this 1888 first edition of Modern Street Ballads is an ode to a tradition lost to centuries past, when, as the author so wonderfully describes it, "The Ballad singers and vendors made money rapidly over any event which took the popular fancy--a good blood-curdling murder being very profitable..." Writing songs and printing broadsheets of the lyrics, performing in the streets and slinging their songs, these ballad singers made a living from their trade and their often colorful interpretations of current events as well as folktales, politics, and history. This collection holds over 150 popular British ballads arranged by subject ranging from the social to the humorous, from country life to sea shanties, about Queen Victoria and monarchs past, the politics of the day, and those that defy any category, all spanning from the Mutiny at the Nore in 1798 to the Great Exhibition of 1851. Songs include "The Ratcatcher's Daughter," "Crystal Palace," "Miss Bailey's Ghost," "The Literary Dustman," "The Female Smuggler," "The Queen's Dream," and many, many more.
7 5/8" X 5". xvi, 405pp. Bound in full cobalt blue cloth over boards, with broadside outlined in black to upper board, sailor dancing a jig in gilt to upper board, and a slightly unsavory-looking ballad slinger in gilt to spine, lettered in gilt. Mild wear to binding, with corners bumped and rubbed, fraying to head and tail of spine, and slight lean to spine. Endpapers are replaced. Binding is firm, tight, and sound. Pages are clean and unmarked. Illustrated in frontispiece and 56 woodcuts throughout. Very good. Item #7728