The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #19247   Message #195367
Posted By: Tony in Darwin
15-Mar-00 - 09:25 AM
Thread Name: Pop Goes the Weasel - Meaning?
Subject: RE: Help: Pop Goes the Weasel - Meaning?
Skipjack K8, until this thread came up I didn't realise the "Baring-Gould Nursery Rhyme" book on my bookshelf was by a B-G other than the famous Sabine. The best I can do is to quote the back flap of the dust-jacket

"A 200-year-old farmhouse fifty miles north of New York City is now the home of Bill and Ceil Baring-Gould, both one-time Midwesterners. He has been, for the past 25 years, an executive of Time Inc., magazine and book publishers. She is active in community life, particularly education and government. The Baring-Goulds' interest in the lore of children's literature stems from the writings of Mr. Baring-Gould's grandfather, the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould. Both avid readers since childhood, the Baring-Goulds recently had to add a wing to their home to house their library which includes a rich collection of children's literature, kept up-to-date by additions from the books cherished by their own two children, Judith, now 19, and young Bill, now 15.
Mr. Baring-Gould's first book, 'Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street, A Life of the World's First Consulting Detective', was published in April, 1962"

Bear in mind that this book was published in 1962, so Judith and young Bill are now aged about 57 and 53, respectively.

None of this takes us any closer to answering Mark's original question, though. I tended to go along with's not a political song, just a folk-tale of London.

But wait!!!

Another book just fell off the shelf.
("Origins of Rhymes, Songs and Sayings", Jean Harrowven, Kaye & Ward, London, 1977. p273)

'The Song 'Pop Goes the Weasel' was written in the 1830s by Charles Sloman and sung by him in such places of ill-repute as the Cyder Cellars and the Coal Hole. His version does not contain the words that are so familiar to us today. There were six verses in the original song, all in the same vein as the first:
Something new starts every day,
Pop goes the Weasel,
Fashion ever changes sway,
Pop goes the Weasel.
As one comes in another goes out,
Pop goes the Weasel.
The newest one, there is no doubt, is
Pop goes the Weasel.
The lyrics comment on the changing fashion of catchphrases and "pop goes the weasel" was a saying at the time. The "weasel" was a tailor's "goose" or heavy iron, a commodity which could easily be pawned. Another explanation of this rhyme was suggested by Arthur Moore, who says he had always understood that the Eagle tavern had been a betting shop, where money was lost and poachers pawned their weasels to pay their debts.
James Robinson Planché used the verse that we know today in his revue 'The Haymarket Spring Meeting' and adapted it to the Eagle tavern, where it was first produced.'

More on the Eagle (from the same source, p272):
'The Eagle tavern replaced the gardens of the Shepherd and Shepherdess when the City Road was built in the East End of London in 1825. The new proprietor was a man called Rouse, commonly known as "Bravo Rouse". He was an adventurous man, who provided new entertainment to attract his customers. He arranged balloon ascents, built the Russian Mountain made of scenic model railways, and in 1831 converted the ornaments used at the coronation of William IV into a large ornamental entrance to his pleasure gardens. He extended the Eagle tavern and the site was then called Royal Eagle Coronation Pleasure Grounds.'
[I can just see that on the destination board of the Number 3 bus!]
'In 1832 he built the Grecian saloon and provided dancing and entertainment within its walls, thus extending the Eagle even more. Later the saloon became the Grecian Theatre, but did not thrive as such and, in 1882, it was taken over by the Salvation Army. Until its demolition at the turn of the century, the Grecian Theatre could easily be distinguished by the two stone eagles set on pillars on each side of the entrance.'

I keep finding more stuff! I'll start a separate thread on Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould.