Throughout 1759, Sandby executed numerous drawings of London tradesmen and women for London Cries, done from ye Life. However, only one set of twelve images was published the following year, for which the present drawing was plate 6.
Sets of engravings of itinerant tradesmen and performers had been popular in Europe for centuries; in 1688 Marcellus Laroon the Elder first published his Cryes of the City of London, which proved so popular that they were regularly re-issued throughout the 18th Century. In 1750, they were revised to bring them into line with contemporary taste and Louis-Philippe Boitard was charged with updating the costumes and faces. However, the resulting figures were felt to be too refined and elegant to be realistic, so when Sandby executed his series, he made a point of emphasising that the figures were 'done from life'.