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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Meat Market: 1926

Meat Market: 1926

September 1926. Washington, D.C. "Thos. R. Shipp Co. -- C.H. Javins stand." The Charles Javins meat counter, or a neighbor, at Center Market. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Chilled Beef?

I'm pretty sure all that meat is only on display for the publicity photo. The glass display case to the left has an ice tray at top, you can see the drain petcock on the right of it. Most of the meat would have been kept in an ice cooler in back and brought out for customers as needed.

Swim Fins

I'm ready to order those delicious-looking snorkel fins hanging at the top left.

Things you don't want to see

... being made in Washington. The other one is laws.

If you think this is bad

It's nothing compared to the meat counter at a modern supermarket in Venezuela that I saw in 1992. I don't believe they ever removed the old meat, let alone cleaned "refrigerated" meat cabinet. The meat on the top was fresh but the layers below became progressively greener, then grayer. The stench from halfway back in the store was beyond description.

Frankly, compared to THAT I'd happily buy meat from C.H. Javins.

Light Weight

The scale over the display case isn't reading heavy, it's actually reading 2½ lbs light! But, not to worry, it'll be much more accurate when they hang the pan back on it.


I am inclined to agree with History Lover. I prefer things from the ground not things sitting on the ground. I really like the far package with its dark liquid seepage. Ewwwww!

This Ain't Russia

The starving masses in the workers' paradise of Soviet Russia 1926 would not have looked at this bounty with pecksniffian disdain but more than likely a feeling of envy and even resentment that a corrupt Capitalist populace had easy access to such plenty!

Sawdust onthe floor

When I was living in New Jersey, some 35 years ago, I would go to a butcher shop a few blocks away from my first apartment. They had sawdust on the floor there. It was, I was told, to help soak up any blood that might leak form the packages of freshly cut meat and to keep the floor from getting slippery. They used cedar sawdust and it gave the place an interesting scent.

Sewing with fat

I've always wanted to try larding a fancy cut of beef. That is literally taking a needle, threading it with a long strip of fat which is shaped kind of like extra large linguine, and pulling it through the meat, a bit like tying a quilt. I've seen Julia Child do it and it looks quite amusing!

Keep Smiling

I suppose they need that reminder on summer afternoons when all that unrefrigerated meat got a bit ripe.

New York Beef Co

Found an earlier 1923 R. L. Polk Washington DC Directory, Page 1196, that lists New York Beef Co (Chas J. Johnson) 577-79 Center Mkt., same stand numbers as found in picture on this inviting display stand.

Is that John E. Hager,(corrected spelling) Wholesale and Retail Poultry, Fruits & Vegetables, Coconut and Horseradish, in stall behind? He is listed in same 1923 directory, p. 771, Center Market, 9th St. Wing, Main 6556, at stalls 571-604, although the numbers might have changed in intervening years.

Always enjoy market stands, especially in DC, so very happy to see such a fine detailed interior view. If only there were a few people within we could feel its age. Sure hope to see more of these great interior views.

Larding Optional

The two prime cuts resting on butcher paper on the counter have been larded. Check your "Joy of Cooking" for details. The dial scales may have been accurate enough for 1926 meat prices. Today's meat prices demand weight accuracy to the hundredth of a pound.

"Keep Smiling"

We made at least 93 cents today!


By the looks of this meat counter, I may have considered being a vegetarian back in the day. No wonder my mother and grandmother were always so concerned about preparing meat throughly well-done. I guess I still may not want to know about any lack of sanitation that occurs today, unless I am in the position to prevent it!


Can you say, "I like shopping in an abattoir"? And a filthy one, at that!

Know Your Cuts

I don't know anything about cuts of meat, but the one lying on the paper in the center of the counter certainly intrigues me. I can't imagine what it could be -- it almost looks like firecrackers.

Mr. Upton Sinclair?

"Your order is ready, sir. Right there on the floor with the others!"


That ceiling fan hanging loosely by its wiring must have put on an interesting floor show when it was running.

Small Reminder

I seriously hope they didn't turn on those fans -- the blades are filthy! But I really got a kick out of the little sign in the sausage case "Keep Smiling." Haven't seen much like that in old photos.

Telephone 5394

What a confusing caption Mr. Herbert French has left for us. First, Charles H. Javin & Sons were fishmongers at Center Market. Second, Thomas R. Shipp was not a butcher but a PR man. More on Shipp at Atwater Kent: 1927. Finally, when the New York Beef Co. declared bankruptcy in 1935, the owner was listed as Charles J. Johnson.

A great photo for details: the menacing saws hanging in back, the knife sharpener under the cash register, the Hobart meat grinder, and lastly the telephone: No. 5394, according to ads.

[Names in National Photo captions are often the clients who commissioned the picture. - Dave]

Where's the Board of Health

I know subway tiles are supposed to convey a sense of sterility and hygiene but this doesn't quite "cut" it!

Honest Weight.

Hope they don't use that scale over the display case,looks like it weighs a little heavy! Those baskets on the floor look like they have wrapped cuts waiting for pickup.I like the Jones sausage advertising on the side of the New York Beef cabinet. Jones sausage is still made today! Looks like prime rib or rib roast in that cabinet as well. Last but not least we have a cigarette butt and a sawdust covered floor. Health codes back then were a little looser than now.

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