Article MT236

Birmingham Ballad Printers

Part Two: K - P

Ballads are listed by sheet, in alphabetical order of title, using the abbreviations and conventions listed below.  The work will be completed by an alphabetical index of all the titles and tunes listed - probably in instalments as with this article..

References infrequently occurring are given in full; otherwise, these abbreviations are used:

* Indicates item without imprint, but ascribed to printer in whose list it appears.

First lines, where given, are in round brackets.  A number after a title in square brackets is is the serial number given by the printer to the sheet listed.  A date in round brackets after a title is mentioned in the text of the sheet or can be deduced from it.

Samuel Kettle No.6 (The Transport's Lamentation)
From the Roy Palmer Archive.Part 2: K - P

Samuel Kettle (?1838-1839)
Kettle was an engraver and printer at No. 7 Court, Oxford Street, from 1838-39.  However, his street ballads (of which only a handful have survived) bear the address of 84 Digbeth. T King (1840s-1850s)
Although King was a Birmingham printer I have found no address for him, and he seems to have left no trace in census records.  His sheets typically bore this information: 'Printed by T. King, Birmingham, and sold by Mr [George] Green, at his Music Stall near the Turnpike, City-road, and at 27 Featherstone Street, City Road, where an extensive collection of old and new songs, harp and violin strings, fancy stationery, &c. may be had'.  In addition, many carried an advertisement on these lines, running round all four sides: 'Written Music, for the Violin, Flute, Accordian, Cornopean, Instruction Books for all kinds of Instruments. Violins, Accordians, Harmonicans, & Concertinas sold and repaired. Tamborines, bows, screws, bridges, rosin, music paper. Instruments bought, sold, or exchanged. Fancy Walking Sticks. Toys'.

Robert Martin (?1757-1796)
Although he may already have been a master printer, from 1758 Robert Martin worked as a journeyman for the great John Baskerville, later becoming his confidential agent.  After Baskerville's death in 1775, Martin continuing type-founding for his widow, Sarah.  Before that, perhaps as early as 1757, Martin was working in his own right, and in a directory of 1770 appeared as 'Martin, Robert, Printer with Mr. Baskerville's Types, No. 10, Mount Pleasant'.  Seven years later he was listed as bookseller and printer at Ann Street, Mount Pleasant.  I have encountered only one ballad, The Bristol Bridegroom, with the imprint of R. Martin, No. 10, Mount Pleasant, Birmingham, but two others may be his: Aristippus (Printed at Martin's Office, Birmingham) and The Wandering Shepherdess (Martin, Printer, Birmingham).  Robert Martin died in 1796 and was succeeded the following year by his widow, Susanna.

Susanna Martin (1797-1807)
Susanna (or Susannah), the widow of Robert Martin, succeeded him at 10 Ann Street, Mount Pleasant, as a stationer, bookbinder and ink maker.  She was also a printer, the second woman in Birmingham to issue ballads, though I have seen only two such items with the imprint of S. Martin, Ann Street, the different editions of Three New Carols for Christmas.

Note: A Carol for Christmas Day is the subject of the article by Mollie McCabe, 'A Rewritten Version of The Carnal and the Crane (Child 55)', in Folk Music Journal 4:4 (1984), 528-538.

S & T Martin (1807-1810)
S & T Martin No.3 (The Green Coat Boy's Garland)
From the Roy Palmer Archive. Thomas Martin, Robert's nephew, became Susanna's business partner in 1807 (though some sources suggest between one and four years earlier).  Operating from 10 Ann Street and also 10 Haymarket, they were printers, printing ink manufacturers and bookbinders. No.5 (below) has this imprint: 'Printed by S. & T. Martin, Birmingham, Of whom may be had all Sorts of Histories, Godly Books, Slip Ballads, &c'.  It also bears the annotation, presumably made by the purchaser: Elizabeth Oakley July 27 1808'.  When Susanna Martin died in 1810 at the age of 76 the firm closed.

R Peach (1855- ?)

Little is known of Peach, beyond his imprint, which states: 'Successor to Wright, Printer, Smithfield, Birmingham'.  It is curious, though, that Wright's last address as a printer was 93 Lichfield Street, and that he was working at 17 Moat Lane, Smithfield, only during 1827-29.  Perhaps, as well as acquiring Wright's presses and type, Peach also operated from one of his earlier addresses.

Richard Peart (1808-1812)
In 1793 Peart, together with James Belcher, Senior, was sentenced to three months in Warwick Gaol for selling copies of Tom Paine's 'Letter Addressed to the Addressers on the Late Proclamation'.  From 1799 he was in business in various capacities - printer, stationer, machine ruler, circulating library proprietor and bookseller - at Temple Street, Spiceal Street (1801) and 38 Bull Street (1808-1812).  At the latter premises he was in partnership with Thomas Dewson as R. Peart and Co.  After Peart's death in 1812 the firm continued under his son, Richard.  Despite the latter's death, in 1845, it continued until the mid-1850s.  Only two broadsides have come to light both from the time of Peart, Senior, at 38 Bull Street. William Plastans (1828-?1850)
Plastans, working at 55 Dale End, had the familiar combination of activities: bookseller, bookbinder, stationer, news vendor and printer.  He was apparently succeded by Joseph Plastans, who moved the business to 132 Digbeth.  William Plastans apparently did not issue broadsides, but he printed A New Carol Book Containing a Choice Collection of Christmas Carols (HG), which includes: The Babe of Bethlehem, Dives and Lazarus, The Moon Shines Bright, Arise and Hail, The Sunny Bank, While Sheepherds (sic) Watch, The Virgin Unspotted, Christians Awake and The Star of Bethlehem.

William Pratt (1840s?-1861)
As printer, stationer, bookseller, bookbinder and newsagent, Pratt worked, from a single address, 82 Digbeth, which he called 'The cheapest Song Warehouse in England'or 'W. Pratt's Song Emporium'.  One of his sheets (no.189, below) carries this information: 'Published by H. Reed, Stationer & Bookseller, 67 West-street, and 1, Tower-hill, Old Market-street, Bristol, where Hawkers and Shops are supplied on the Lowest Terms'.  As late as 1851 he is recorded in the census only as a stationer (and native of Greenwich, aged 36) though the date of 1845 appears in manuscript on a copy of one of his sheets, Free Trade (no.103, below).  He appears in the directory for 1861, though not in the census.  The Anne Pratt, widow, shown as stationer, shown at Court 17, 3 House, Bartholomew Street (not far from Digbeth), could well have been Pratt's widow – and her son, William Pratt, aged 14, fits remarkably well with the boy, aged four, of the same name, living with William Pratt, ten years earlier.  (I am indebted to Keith Chandler for the census information).  On some sheets Pratt printed stock numbers, of which the highest I have seen is 777 (see no.72, below).  Of these, I have traced only 72.  It is clear nevertheless that Pratt must have been the most prolific of the Birmingham ballad printers.

Roy Palmer - 4.3.10

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To be continued ...

Article MT236

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