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Broadside ballad entitled 'Large Coal Shed'


Verse 1: 'My name is Dennis Docherty, a well to old man, / And I try to rare my famely as dasen't as I can, / I am just a few years over, and some money I have made, / And now I am the master, of a large coal shed.' This sheet was printed by William Shepherd of 182 Overgate and cost one penny.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Poet?s Box is mentioned also on the sheet and it is probable that Shepherd was associated with this enterprise in the early 1880s. The Dundee Poets? Box was in operation from about 1880 to 1945, though it is possible that some material was printed as early as the 1850s. Most of the time it had premises at various addresses in Overgate. In 1885 the proprietor J.G. Scott (at 182 Overgate) had published a catalogue of 2,000 titles consisting of included humorous recitations, dialogues, temperance songs, medleys, parodies, love songs, Jacobite songs. The Poets? Box was particularly busy on market days and feeing days when country folk were in town in large numbers. Macartney specialised in local songs and bothy ballads. Many Irish songs were published by the Poets? Box ? many Irishmen worked seasonally harvesting potatoes and also in the jute mills. In 1906 John Lowden Macartney took over as proprietor of the Poet?s Box, initially working from 181 Overgate and later from no.203 and 207.It is not clear what the connection between the different Poet?s Boxes were. They almost certainly sold each other?s sheets. It is known that John Sanderson in Edinburgh often wrote to the Leitches in Glasgow for songs and that later his brother Charles obtained copies of songs from the Dundee Poet?s Box. There was also a Poet?s Box in Belfast from 1846 to 1856 at the address of the printer James Moore and also one in Paisley in the early 1850s run by William Anderson.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This instructional ballad informs its audience that if they 'keep off the spree' (merrymaking and drinking), it is likely that they will make a success of their lives and line of business. Therefore, the aim of this moralising broadside appears to be to inculcate the Protestant work ethic into all that read and hear its message. In this ballad, the business in question is the delivery of coal, via horse and cart. The reference to 'Blackness Road' suggests that the setting for the ballad is the west end of Dundee - this being a prosperous part of the city that people would aspire to live in.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

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Probable period of publication: 1880-1900   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(71a)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Large Coal Shed'
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