Toy butcher shop from 1840

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This is an 1840 butcher shop model. Note the exquisite detail down to the sawdust and blood on the floor. Such items weren't uncommon and were sold as promotional displays for shops or, yes, as child playlets. From Collectors Weekly:

As doll houses—which also started out as toys for adults—were being manufactured for children around the late 19th century, so were small-scale places of commerce, such as the butcher’s. These toy shops allowed kids to mimic adults and learn about money and food, just as supermarket playlets do today. The toy animal flesh, Wood says, wouldn’t have been shocking, because this is how meat was presented and bought and, with limited methods of refrigeration, children would have been used to seeing preserved cuts of meat hanging up.

What we do know is that Victorians documented their entire world in miniature. According to (Robert Culff, author of The World of Toys), elaborate and accurate little replicas were modeled for every store in town: the draper, the greengrocer, the fishmonger, the baker, the milliner’s full of bonnets and hat boxes, and the sweet shop featuring “uncertainly balanced scales, jars of hundreds-and-thousands [a.k.a. sprinkles] and cachou lozenges in little tins smelling of ghostly roses and violets.”

"Baby’s First Butcher Shop, Circa 1900"

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  1. The toy animal flesh, Wood says, wouldn’t have been shocking, because this is how meat was presented and bought and, with limited methods of refrigeration, children would have been used to seeing preserved cuts of meat hanging up.

    Is it shocking now? I mean, I’m a city boy but we’ve all seen a rack of lamb or a whole chicken…I’m honestly asking if anyone thinks their kid would be shocked by a side of beef.

    1. Quite a few children are horrified by meat and become vegetarians while they’re still in grammar school.

  2. “because this is how meat was presented and bought and, with limited methods of refrigeration, children would have been used to seeing preserved cuts of meat hanging up.”

    The fact that this is presented in the past tense is charmingly cute.

     It’s a four hour plane ride to Mexico City from Dallas, and I can promise you, you can get both wifi and raw cuts of meat just as pictured in many, many open air markets there. Then you can hop on the subway, go down two stops and buy a new Macbook. Oaxaca has a more picturesque market, but it’s not as if the open air butcher somehow disappeared with the advent of the suburban supermarket.

  3. “What we do know is that Victorians documented their entire world in miniature.”

    So do they have adorable teeny workhouses, complete with cripples and orphans, and very small dark satanic mills?

    1. Also tiny, lovingly carved houses of ill repute complete with rouged and beribboned harlots. And little bitsy insane asylums.  And charming sanatoriums with rows of iron lungs wrought in miniature.

  4. I approve. Kids should learn the actual provenance of everyday foods and items, not just ‘you buy it in the shop.’  The reasons are many: education, logical thinking, awareness of the world’s mechanisms, respect for seemingly trivial products, even survival in case these products should suddenly become unavailable…

    (I also think that it’s ridiculous that the majority of people who eat meat, love meat, would never ever give up meat, don’t want to hear about where it comes from, and even pretend that they would never kill an animal. Nothing wrong with being a carnivore, but own up to it.)

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