Sheila O’Connell

Published On


Page Range

pp. 53–76


  • English

Print Length

24 pages

3. Pictures on the Street: Cheap Pictorial Prints in Eighteenth-Century Britain

  • Sheila O’Connell (author)
This chapter discusses the range of printed images that would have been familiar during the eighteenth century to people at all levels of society in towns and to a lesser extent in rural areas. These everyday prints ranged from early examples of advertising to grim depictions of the condemned sold at public executions; from moralizing broadsides to cheap patriotic portraits of the royal family and military leaders. Like other commodities sold in large numbers for small sums, they were not valued at the time and so are now rare. Catalogues published in the 1750s and 1760s list hundreds of titles, often repeated in prints of different sizes, or as etchings as well as more traditional woodcuts. New images appeared regularly, but older prints, still satisfying an undemanding market were reissued from cracked and worm-eaten woodblocks or worn-out copper-plates. By the beginning of the nineteenth century technological developments introduced changes in technique and style, and reduced the cost of production, but the subject matter of cheap pictorial prints remained largely unchanged.


Sheila O’Connell