Young lambs to sell! Young lambs to sell!
I never would cry young lambs to sell,
If I'd as much money as I could tell,
I never would cry young lambs to sell.
According to The Annotated Mother Goose (1962), by William S. and Ceil Baring-Gould, the "lambs" referred to in this rhyme were toys. They further note that this rhyme derives from a vendor's street cry. (Both of these facts seem to be confirmed in the illustration above.) They give two additional lines at the beginning of the rhyme:
Get ready your money and come to me,
I sell a young lamb for one penny.
Young Lambs to Sell is similar to the rhyme, If I'd as Much Money as I Could Spend, which seems to be another street vendors' song.
What's funny to me is that the man in the second illustration (by Blanche Fisher Wright) resembles a young Dick Van Dyke! -Mama Lisa
Photos & Illustrations
Thanks and Acknowledgements
The 1st illustration comes from The National Nursery Book and the 2nd illustration is from The Real Mother Goose (1916), illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright.