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Broadside entitled 'Humours of the Age'


This comic broadside begins: 'Chuse where and what you will, here are some things new to suit and to please Old and Young, Deaf and Dumb, Mad, Lame and Lazy, Young Men who walk in their Sleep, Old Maids who have no Teeth, and Dairy Maids, Cheats and Dandies, containing the Humours of the Age, being Whimsical, witty and Diverting!' A note at the foot of the page reads: 'EDINBURGH:- Reprinted by Menzies, Lawnmarket', which suggests that this broadside was originally published in another city or town.

This broadside is a precursor to today's joke books. The 'humours of the age' contained on the broadside tend to be one-liners rather than shaggy-dog stories. The little piece of doggerel verse that ends the sheet is a relic of an earlier age of public performance, when playwrights and poets sometimes ended their works with a final verse thanking the audience for its attention and craving that its appreciation be shown in donations of gold and silver. The presence of the verse here suggests that the broadside might have been a transcription of one contemporary entertainer's performance.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

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Probable date of publication: 1835   shelfmark: F.3.a.13(101)
Broadside entitled 'Humours of the Age'
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