Vintage Butcher-Toys

Lisa schreibt mir: „This grisly 1840 doll-sized butcher shop with miniature animal carcasses and a floor covered in sawdust and blood would be shockingly graphic to our modern sensibilities. But in Victorian times, these toys were not uncommon. The real question is: Why?“

One answer can be found in Robert Culff’s 1969 book “The World of Toys,” which suggests that such playsets—like the ones produced by famous turn-of-the-century toymaker Christian Hacker—did well with Victorian children who weren’t at all squeamish about imagining themselves cleaving a calf’s flank.

Culff writes that these “exact representations of butchers’ shops” were very popular, “with their modeled joints, strings of sausages, and whole animal carcasses hanging from real iron hooks, tier by tier, ’round the wooden butcher and his two assistants in their striped aprons.” He explains that it must have been satisfying “taking down and wrapping Sunday joints for one’s brothers and sisters, and presumably a certain amount about the prime cuts of meat was learned painlessly in the doing of it.”

Baby’s First Butcher Shop, Circa 1900