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Book Notes: Jewish Pedlars and Hawkers, 1740-1940, Betty Naggar

Malcolm Brown

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Book Notes Jewish Pedlars and Hawkers, 1740-1940, Betty Naggar (Porphyrogenitus, Camberley 1992) 145 pp. 25 pis. ?12.95. Mrs Naggar drew an enthusiastic audience to her popular lecture on 18th- and 19th-century old-clothes men (Trans JHSE XXXI [1990] 171-92), and this broadening of both time-span and subject matter deserves a still wider readership. Many of our members can trace their descent from ancestors who trod lonely roads, often at considerable peril, in the hope of locating customers willing to buy from their precious boxes. Mrs Naggar's skilful narrative disguises the extent of research needed to provide particulars, such as inventories and an alphabet of wares. Correspondents from the Orkneys and the Scilly Isles, historically the last outposts for these travellers, have communicated their evidence to her, and a dozen taxi-drivers have reminisced, none surely to more advantage than one who sketched how a roundabout was fixed to an old-clothes man's cart, where free rides were given in exchange for clothes, crockery or jam jars. But the bulk of her samples comes from a careful trawl through over a century and a half of Old Bailey Sessions Papers, supplemented by details from record offices and personal accounts, sometimes from non-Jewish sources, of traders who committed their experiences to paper. Among many good things it is fascinating to find a definition of a 'Jerusalem donkey' (perhaps partially explaining a mysterious print in Mr Rubens's collection, to be found in Anglo-Jewish Portraits [1935] no. 306), together with specimens of slang from a fraternity professional enough to use its own almanacs. Social historians as well as ordinary scholars will welcome this major advance in knowledge of an area too little studied; not least because it is accom? panied by sixteen colour plates and an excellent index. Malcolm Brown</page></plain_text>