I changed the nameplate at top. They are newsboys from the early 20th century – newsies. You may have seen the play or movie “Newsies,” which is about the newsboy strike of 1899.
In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, newsboys sold newspapers on the streets of New York. They worked grueling hours and didn’t make much, many were homeless.
In 1899, Joseph Pulitzer who owned the New York World and William Randolph Hearst, who owned the New York Evening Journal, raised the amount of money they newsboys paid for the newspapers.
In 1898, due to the Spanish-American War, newspapers sold a lot of issues, this was the only means of news and people bought them up, wanting to know the daily status of the war. Newspapers raised the price from 50 cents to 60 cents per bundle of 100 newspapers. After the war, all newspapers dropped the prices back down, except for the World and Evening Journal.
I looked up the newspaper front pages from back then, you can see them here. They were one cent. So the 60 cents per bundle of 100, really didn’t leave much of a profit. You can read about the strike and get details here. The main outcome is still used to this day – the newspapers will buy back unsold copies of the papers. So if the papers don’t sell, the news seller is not responsible for them.