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Broadside ballads entitled 'The Coogate Porter', 'The Children's Home', 'Mary, Kind, Kind and Gentle is She', and 'The Banks of Claudy'


The first ballad begins: 'I am a Coogate porter, / And I work baith hard and sair'. The second ballad begins: 'They played in their beautiful garden, / The children of high degree'.The third ballad begins: 'Kind, kind, and gentle is she, / Kind is my Mary'. The fourth ballad begins: 'It was on a summer's morning all in the month of May, / Down by yon flowery garden where Betsy did stray'.

This broadside was published by Lowden McCartney at the Poet's Box, 180 Overgate, Dundee. The songs featured are fairly typical of the standard stock-in-trade offered by broadside producers at this time - most likely the nineteenth century. Whilst many of the ballads published were well-established favourites that have continued to stand the test of time, a large number were the highly formulaic popular songs of their day and, as such, were disposable but enjoyable entertainment. According to an entry in 'The Girl's Own Paper' in 1884, 'The Children's home' was written by F. E. Weatherly, and arranged as a vocal duet by Alfred J. Caldicott from the favourite song by F. H. Cowen.

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. Another proprietor in the 1880s was William Shepherd, but little is known about him. 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 one at Paisley in the early 1850s, owned by William Anderson.

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 date of publication: 1906-   shelfmark: RB.m.143(129)
Broadside ballads entitled 'The Coogate Porter', 'The Children's Home', 'Mary, Kind, Kind and Gentle is She', and 'The Banks of Claudy'
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