However, as a detailed visual guide to the different cuts of meat available in a typical Victorian butcher’s store, it has been suggested that they were placed in the window when the shop was closed or the weather too hot.
Today they serve as reminders of how meat used to be sold and appeal to lovers of folk art as much as collectors of toys and juvenalia.
This example, measuring 2ft 4in (71cm) wide in the original mahogany framed case, emerged for sale at Stride & Son of Chichester on March 8 via a consultant whose client, said auctioneer Peter Parker, “would have been happy with £50”. He added: “I have seen many in catalogues and in the pages of the ATG but it was the first I had handled in person.”
Estimated at an attractive £2000-3000, it generated plenty of interest but from around £5000 the bidding was between a room and a phone bidder. It sold to a London folk art specialist at £14,000 (plus 18% buyer’s premium).
The sum is towards the top end of the price range although more elaborate examples, with additional figures and 70 or more cuts of meat, have made more.