Page 9 - August 2017
P. 9

variations, excluding the possibility of lead   engraved prints and letterpress keepsakes
       types being used. Croom’s letter-spacing   for sale. St Bride’s 1814 print clearly
       and general layout are rather sloppy, and   shows a star-wheel copperplate press and
       the job may have been executed in a hurry   a wooden common press. The famous
       after hearing that the King was to visit the   ‘wedding-cake’ spire of St Bride’s—the
       Fair that day.                        Printers’ Church— is clearly visible on
         Author and diarist John Evelyn      the engraving. Despite the bitterly cold
       wrote on 24th January 1684: “The frost   weather, blue-fi ngered compositors would
       continuing more and more severe, the   set your name for 6d, as they did at every
       Thames before London was still planted   fair, and print a souvenir for you to take
       with boothes in formal streetes, as in a   away. One printed verse, published during
       Citty.” He added “All sorts of Trades and   the Great Frost Fair of 1683-84 (and oft-
       shops furnished . . . even to a Printing   repeated in subsequent freezes) goes:
       presse where the people and ladyes tooke
       a fancy to have their names printed, and      To the Print-house go
       the day and year set down when printed       Where men the Art of Printing seem
       on the Thames”. Evelyn continued, “This     to know
       humour tooke so universally, that ‘twas       Where for a Teaster, you may have
       estimated the printer gained £5 a day—for     your name
       printing a line onely at sixpence a name,       Printed hereafter for to shew the
       besides what he got by ballads (song     same;
       sheets)”. Allowing for infl ation, £5 in 1684       And sure in former ages ne’er was
       would be worth almost £1,000 today.     found
       A lucrative novelty indeed. The printer       A Press to Print where men se oft
       described may have been Mr Croom        were drown’d.
       himself, a gentleman of means, thanks to
       his benefactor, Mr Jack Frost.          By the end of January 1814,
         In February 1814 the Thames froze   temperatures had remained well below
       to a depth of 12 inches or more for its   freezing for over a fortnight and ice-fl oes
       entire width throughout the Square Mile   bobbed around in the river between
       and Londoners took to the ice in their   Blackfriars and London bridges. The
       thousands. A crudely coloured print,   presence of these mini-icebergs impeded
       published a few weeks after the thaw,   the fl ow of the Thames even more than
       illustrates the range of goods and services   London Bridge, making it easier for the
       available to those who were brave enough   water between them to freeze, which it
       to venture onto the ice. A copy survives at   rapidly did, forming a solid sheet from
       St Bride. There were ten printing presses   bank to bank. As the temperatures
       on the ice that year, turning out copper   remained low, the water froze to an even

                                 London Bridge 1209-1831
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