c. 1808 London UK broadside ballad sheet ‘Widdow Waddle” by J. Pitts

$145.00 CAD

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Nice piece of ephemera dating to the period of the Napoleonic Wars. Broadside sheet with lyrics to a popular song with woodblock floral image at top.

                             Widdow Waddle,
                        Or, Chickabiddy Lane’
Printed and Sold by J. Pitts, 14 Great St. Andrew Street, Seven Dials
Mrs. Waddle was a widow and she got no little gain,
She kept a tripe and trotter shop in Chickabiddy lane
Her next door neighbour Tommy Tick a tallyman was he,
And he ax’d Mrs Waddle just to take a cup of tea:
With a tick a tee a tick a tee, &c,
Mrs. Waddle put her chints on and sent for Sammy Sprig,
This tittivating barber to frizity her wig,
Tommy Tick he dress’d in pompadore with double channel pomps:
And look’d when he’d his jazy on just like a jack of trumps.
With a tick a tee, &c.

Toned and dirty along edges. Small creases.

25,50 x 9,50 cm


John Pitts (1765–1844) opened his first printing establishment at No. 14 Great St Andrew Street, Seven Dials, St Giles-in-the-Fields, London in 1802, where he printed ballads, chapbooks and other ephemera. Ballad-sheets are single sheets of paper with a ballad printed on one side – sometimes called a broadside or a broadside ballad – a cheap, ephemeral form of street literature meant to be sung.


Ballad-sheets were sold in printing shops, to the trade and by hawkers for one halfpenny or one penny. Earlier ballad-sheets were often large folio sheets; more common in the early-nineteenth century were narrower strips, or sometimes quarto-sized sheets. As in chapbooks, woodcut images often adorn the ballad-sheet. There is no music printed, although there is sometimes a line beneath the title referencing a popular tune. Hawkers would sing to the appropriate tune, which was probably well known to readers more interested in the new words

Besides the sound of hawkers in the street, old and new ballads were disseminated orally at home and in more social settings. However, the variety of ballad-sheets available, their popularity, and the social value of being able to read them would have provided a strong incentive to achieve literacy. It is very likely that ballad-sheets played a significant role in the expansion of literacy and reading in the early nineteenth century, long before the 1870 Education Acts in Britain

David Buchanan, University of Alberta, 2013