The Charge of the Bargain Brigade: 1898

victorian shopping

The Charge of the Bargain Brigade.

“Bargain Sale! Bargain Sale!”

Newspapers thundered.

Up to the Palace of Trade

Strode the Six Hundred.


“Forward! Our fortune’s made!

Charge on the clerks!” they said.

Into the Palace of Trade

Rushed the Six Hundred.


“Goods sold for half their worth.”

Was this a cause for mirth?

Women who saw the sign

Not even wondered.


Their’s not to make reply,

Their’s not to reason why,

Their’s but to simply buy,

Buy in the Palace of Trade —

Thought the Six Hundred.


Bargains to right of them,

Bargains to left of them,

Front of them — back of them —

Volleyed and thundered.


What they bought none knew well.

Weak ones grew faint and fell,

Tho’ dresses ripped, ker-r-r-rack!

Into the crush pell-mell

Dove the Six Hundred!


Boldly and well they fought;

Then home her spoil brought

Each wife and daughter.

Let this be their defense.

All saved at least ten cents —

Some saved a quarter.

— Frank Sawin Bailey in Puck.

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 2 May 1898

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: This “spoof” on Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem about the tragic events at the Battle of Balaclava on this date in 1854 is, as many of us blush to know, all too accurate. Newspapers routinely write of strategies for shopping the upcoming “Black Friday” that would shame a military tactician. And we have all seen the images from the Running of the Brides. Mrs Daffodil simply implores her readers to wear low shoes, preferably with steel toes.


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