Baby’s First Butcher Shop of the Day: Life was tough in Victorian times — so tough, in fact, that little girls in 1840 played with dollhouses that featured butcher shops, complete with miniature animal carcasses and floors covered in sawdust and blood.
Why the grisly realism?
According to Sarah Louise Wood, a curator at the Museum of Childhood at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the toy animal flesh wouldn’t have been shocking, because this is how meat was presented and bought and, with limited methods of refrigeration, children would have been used to seeing preserved cuts of meat hanging up.
Model for a “Creeping Baby Doll,” which was patented in 1871:
First of all, creeping is what they called crawling back then, and as recently as the early 19th century the question of whether babies should be allowed to crawl was still hotly debated. Crawling was what crazy people and animals did and as such was morally suspect, even “unnatural” for a sane human. By the mid-1800s, however, crawling was seen as a natural stage of childhood and the popularity of devices such as the standing stoolbegan to wane. Meanwhile … Dollmaking was becoming the province of inventors and machinists, not just designers. After the Civil War, American dollmakers tried to get a piece of the action by upping the mechanization ante. The baby doll with a wax head and a crawling motion powered by an internal clockwork mechanism was an attempt to tap into this trend.