Model of a Butcher’s Shop, British

Artist unkown

about 1850

Painted wood

Height: 37 cm

Wood or plaster models of butchers’ shops, encased in a wooden frame, were common by the mid-Victorian era. No one is really sure of the purpose of the models, though. They provided a useful visual guide to the different cuts of meat available, and today they serve as reminders of how meat used to be sold.


It has been suggested that models such as this were placed in the window when the shop was closed or the weather hot, as a trade sign. Shopping at the butcher’s was usually done daily, as fridges had not yet being invented. When refrigeration became available such models would no longer have been necessary.


Another suggestion is that it was an instructional toy, for children to learn about different cuts of meat and prepare them for the adult world of Household Management. Toymakers sold a range of miniature High Street Shops as playsets which were extremely popular with Victorian children.