Friday, June 24, 2016

Clasp Knife: Rambling Recollections of My School and School Days – Article X – Part B

Article X written by Alexander Gunn was printed in the Northern Ensign on 17 Feb 1881 – Part B

The Market

"But I may as well cry a halt in my attempt to describe the various articles and commodities exposed for sale on such occasions. Suffice it to say that each and all were eager and anxious to do business in their several lines and callings, but the apple barrows and the sweetie stands had most attraction for us young folks."

Clasp Knife

"The Birmingham and Sheffield wares had considerable influence over us as well, and we were willingly tempted to invest one shilling in a clasp knife, after testing which of the lot had the best spring. It would be a vain attempt to endeavour to describe the pleasure I felt at the possession of that first knife, a knife that kept company with me in all my wanderings for 22 years; and deep and sincere was the regret felt when by inexorable fate, we parted company."

Luck Penny

 "All, as already stated, seemed bent on business and made their tents and wares as attractive as possible. The whisky tents drove a roaring trade, as all sales of horses and cattle were sealed and settled there, when the “luck penny” was always melted in the half-mutchkin stoop." 


"The drink for the market was a special article manufactured for the occasion, and not supposed to be of the very best quality. It had one quality however, and that was its readiness to rise to the top storey and elevate the imbiber in a very short space of time, and make him entertain a very high opinion of himself and a correspondingly low opinion of others. This frequently led to squabbles and bloodshed for which the “Little Market”, at the time I refer to, was very notable. On one of these occasions, a Berriedale man was thrashed within an inch of his life, and his assailants were sent to Van Diemen’s Land at the public expense. Even at this present day, I believe some trading sparring takes place on a market night."

My Comments:

  • Luck penny  -  A small sum given back “for luck” to the purchaser by the person who receives money in a deal, for example, a deal might be struck where a cow would sell for eight pounds five shillings and ten shillings back for a "luck penny."

  • "The “luck penny” was always melted in the half-mutchkin stoop." I think means that the luck-penny money was spent on whisky (or drink). A mutchkin was a measure of a pint and a stoop was a drinking vessel, such as a jug or tankard. So it means something like, "The profits disappeared in a half-pint jug."

  •  The story of the man who was thrashed at the market was told in the blog about John Wallace on 30 Aug 2015

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