A Rare 19Th Century Ice Cream Cart.
An extremely rare 19th century Welsh Italian ice cream cart from Aberystwyth Wales, UK. Painted on the back of the cart with a British and Italian flags and written “J.Burnett Coach Builder Forge St Pentre ” It’s beautifully decorated throughout with detachable cone sign.
Background, early Italian immigrants came to Wales at the turn of the 19th century with 80% arriving from the same town Bardi in Northern Italy. They settled in Wales at the peak of the industrial revolution and opened the first cafes to serve the thousands of coal, steel and dock workers. Ice cream snack caught on fast, particularly popular were the penny licks a penny’s worth of ice cream, bought from a cart and served in a Shell or glass. Soon the streets of Wales echoed with ice-cream sellers shouting there wares “Gelati, eccoun poco! (ice-cream, here’s a little bit!) or ‘O che paco (oh how little- oh how cheep!) which its beloved then led to the plagiarised cry of HOKEY POKEY ! The term ‘hokey-pokey’ soon came to mean poor-quality ice cream; sometimes made of questionable ingredients, under unsanitary conditions. It was not at all uncommon for consumers to become ill after eating it. The way penny licks were served didn’t help matters: when you’d finished eating your ice cream, you returned your glass ‘penny licker’ to the vendor. He’d either dunk it in some dirty water, or give it a brisk wipe with an ever-present rag, before refilling the glass for the next ‘licker’. Happily, in 1899, a law was passed to ban the use of penny licks: it was thought that these filthy vessels were contributing to the spread of tuberculosis.
This ice cream cart has a truly wonderful and fascinating social history.