The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside with the words to 'Pop Goes the Weasel'


This popular song begins: 'Now all the girls are going mad, / For pop goes the weasel, / And the finest tune we ever had, / Is pop goes the weasel.' It was published by James Lindsay of 9 King Street, Glasgow, and probably sold for one penny.

As with many traditional nursery rhymes and songs there are numerous versions of this song in existence, although the repetition of 'pop goes the weasel' is generally found in each. Its origins are shrouded in mystery, with some claiming that it is an English rhyme dating back to the seventeenth or eighteenth century and others suggesting a possible American influence. Whilst the meaning of the song has also created a certain amount of discussion, it does seem clear that there was a popular dance of the same name. This has long been a favourite song amongst both adults and children and would have very likely sold well as a broadside.

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.

previous pageprevious          
Probable date of publication: 1852-1859   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(032)
Broadside with the words to 'Pop Goes the Weasel'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland