collections

Ye Butcher, Ye Baker, Ye Candlestick-Maker (1908)

Ye butcher, ye baker, ye candlestick-maker: being sundry amusing and instructive verses for both old and young, adorned with numerous woodcuts, by Robert Seaver; Boston : Houghton Mifflin ; Cambridge : Riverside Press.

Although at first glance this little book could be mistaken for an eighteenth-century English chapbook, it was in fact published in New York in 1908 as a parody. It contains ballad-like poems on a range of olde professions, each one taking an amusing turn in its final few lines to consider the trade in the modern world — and in the process often taking a swipe at a whole host of contemporary “ills”, including increased regulations, trade unions, and fake news in the media. Here’s an example from “Ye Pirate” which lands close to our territory at the Public Domain Review:

“Ye pirate now stays safe ashore,
And authors rate him when
He robs ye good ship ‘Copyright’
Of thoughts of brighter men.”

Robert Seaver illustrated each poem with woodcuts, also in chapbook-style, and could possibly have conceived of the book because of the success of The Diverting History of John Gilpin which he had illustrated two years previously.