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Caricature, Laurie & Whittle, Misers Feasting on Sprats, London, Antique Print, 1803 (Sold)

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Misers Feasting on Sprats, or How to be Saving
Laurie & Whittle, 53 Fleet Street, London: August, 15, 1803
Hand-colored etching
6.5 x 9 inches, image
8.5 x 11 inches, overall

This small, comical print illustrates two frugal individuals having a dinner of raw sprats — small fish that are also canned as sardines. The caption reads: “These are hard times Brother Gripe, and we ought to live very frugal; I like this method of eating the Sprats raw they have a good flavour & it saves Fire, and a great deal of time. Brother Gripe I’ll put out the Candle, we can talk & eat enough without being at that expence [sic].” The joke is that not only are they proudly economizing by dining on tiny fish, but also by not cooking them and eating in the dark. The caricature plays upon their parsimony, giving them extremely pinched facial features.

Product description continues below.


Robert Laurie (1755-1836) and James Whittle (1757-1818) were London map, chart and printsellers active from 1794 to 1812 trading variously as Laurie and Whittle or Whittle and Laurie. Laurie began his career as a fine mezzotint engraver and exhibited at the Society of Artists from 1770 to 1776. With Whittle, they took over the large map and print business of Robert Sayer. Laurie & Whittle published many atlases and maps and products used for jigsaw puzzles. Robert’s son, Richard Holmes Laurie, succeeded him upon his retirement in 1812, and after Whittle’s death in 1818 carried on the business alone until at least 1840. The firm still exists as Imray, Laurie, Norie and Wilson Ltd., which has long specialized in marine charts.


Maxted, Ian. “The London book trades 1775-1800: a preliminary checklist of members.” Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History. 2001. and (18 March 2002).

Additional information


19th Century