SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
The Shorpy Archive
9000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing. Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas.
Join and Share

Support Shorpy

Shorpy is funded by you. Help by purchasing a print or contributing. Learn more.

Social Shorpy


Join our mailing list (enter email):

Member Photos

Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

Colorized Photos

Colorized photos submitted by members.

About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Fish in a Barrel: 1903

Fish in a Barrel: 1903

Gloucester, Massachusetts, circa 1903. "Handling a cargo from the fishing banks." 5x7 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5
To stay online without a paywall or a lot of pop-up ads, Shorpy needs your help. (Our server rental alone is $3,000 a year.) You can contribute by becoming a Patron, or by purchasing a print from the Shorpy Archive. Or both! Read more about our 2019 pledge drive here. Our last word on the subject is: Thanks!

Cleaning Fish for Market

Here you see fish being cleaned. The waste is thrown into water held in barrels. This is typical of all seaports in the Northeast.

[These are Gorton's codfish, which will be dried and cured after being salted in the barrels. The waste, as we can see in the photo, goes on the ground. - Dave]

Could be family

During the 1860's till now have had tons of family working in that industry. Back breaking work though safer on the docks than on the ships. Need to enlarge this photo and check against some old family photos, could possibly be a relative or two there.

Expert Fish Splitters

The Boston Cooking-School Magazine, Jan 1912.

Catching and Curing the Codfish

By Albert Cook Church

The fame of Gloucester and her fisheries is world-wide, although to many the various ways of catching and curing fish preparatory for market are entirely unfamiliar. To thoroughly explain the methods employed would require much more space than is available, and for this reason we shall consider only those of greatest importance, first touching briefly upon the manner in which the catch is secured.

After they are caught, the cod are transferred to the vessel, the men pitching them over the rail on deck, where they are dressed and rinsed clean, then packed in ice below, and when the vessel accumulates a catch of sufficient bulk for running to market, fishing is discontinued and all sail made, in order to reach port as quickly as possible. As a rule, vessels of the fresh fishing fleet run for the Boston market at T wharf, where the later caught and freshest fish are disposed of for higher prices than the majority of the catch brings. However, as at present we are considering the curing of the cod, let us go on with the vessel to Gloucester, where the splitters are eagerly awaiting our arrival.

The fish are hoisted out in baskets, swung to the wharf, and overturned, where they are culled out according to length, and classified as large fish, if twenty-two inches or over, mediums between twenty-two and sixteen, all under that being designated as snappers. The culling is done by testing the length in a V shaped wooden trough, open at one end and having a thole pin or cross piece at the other.

A good splitter can do about two hundred and fifty mediums per hour, and to one who has never seen the skillful manner in which tremendous quantities of fish are handled in Gloucester, it is a genuine revelation to see these experts perform. With almost incredible rapidity they split tons and tons of fish, and all day long they keep it up, pausing occasionally to sharpen their knives, till before nightfall they are completely surrounded with heaps of backbones and heads of fish.

Unless too small, the codsheads are taken to other benches, where the tongues and cheeks are cut out to be salted, and the three-cornered strips of backbone, to which the sounds are attached, are saved and the sounds are stripped off. These, too, are salted, as cod tongues, cheeks and sounds are considered a great delicacy. The remaining refuse, consisting of heads and backbones, is thrown into large iron cans and removed later to the glue factories, where it is used in the manufacture of fish glue.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

Syndicate content RSS | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Photo Use | © 2019 Shorpy Inc.