08 April 2013

Game Offered at Chicago Market in mid-April 1883

In 1883, 130 years in the past this week, the following are details for the game available at the Chicago market. The actual reports present a sense of the style for this reports, which were given at least four days a week, by the Chicago Daily Commercial Report (Volume 24), as published by Cowles and Dunkley, printers.

Game was one of the several categories included in the section reporting on The Produce Markets. The prices indicated are for the wholesale market.

April 10, 1883

"Is exceedingly dull and weak for all descriptions. Owing to the warm weather a good deal is coming in poor order, and all of it has to be sold promptly or there is danger of it becoming worthless. Mallard Ducks will hardly bring over $1.50 per doz; Teal $1.00 @ 1.25, and common small 75 @ 80c per doz; Jack Snipe are nearly unsalable and offered at $1.00 per doz for fresh receipts, while some that came in yesterday and were not sold are now worthless. Sand Snipe can hardly be sold at all, though offered at 25 @ 30 c per doz. Plover dull and weak at 50 @ 75 c per doz."

This reports indicates two prominent challenges of the market. Weather was a primary factor and as temperatures warmed during the season, game spoiled and was not worth anything to the seller. Condition of the carcass was a prime factor in the amount that might be paid for a dozen of the various sorts of birds.

Also, some types of birds could only be sold for very low amounts, making it possible that such low prices would not even cover the cost of acquiring the birds. This would be especially applicable to small birds such as the sand snipe, which were most likely various sorts of sandpipers.

April 12, 1883

"Is in liberal supply, sales slow, and prices weak. Mallard ducks weak at $1.50 @ 1.75 per doz for choice, and all off stock correspondingly lower. Common small ducks slow at 75 @ 90 c per doz; Teal at $1.00 @ 1.25 per doz; Canvas Backs dull at $4.00 @ 5.00 per doz when fine and fat, but nearly unsalable when poor.
"Jack Snipe slow at 90 c @ $1.00 per doz, and Sand Snipe at 20 @ 25 c per doz."

Canvasbacks always received exceptional prices, at times being sold for more than $8 per dozen, during certain times of the year.

April 14, 1883

"Ducks are in moderate supply and steady at $1.75 @ 2.00 per doz for choice mallards and correspondingly lower for 'off' stock. Common small very dull at 75 @ 90c per doz for choice, sound birds and lower for poor. Teal slow at about $1.00 per doz. Jack snipe slow at 90c @ $1.00 per doz. Sand snipe nearly unsalable at any price; offered at 25c per doz."

It's amazing that the sand snipe were being offered at a trifle more than two cents apiece.

A summary for these few does indicate a slight fluctuation in some prices, but not to the extent apparent for a longer period of time, and especially as notable for the different seasons.

Game Item 4/10/1883 4/12/1883 4/14/1883
Mallard $ 1.50 $ 1.50 $ 1.75
Duck 0.75 0.75 0.75
Teal 1.00 1.00 1.00
Canvasback - - 4.00 - -
Plover 0.50 - - - -
Wilson's Snipe 1.00 0.90 0.90
Sandpiper 0.25 0.20 0.25

Different types of waterfowl were generally offered starting in late winter or early spring, and then through late spring. They would once again be a market commodity once again in the autumn. At this time of the year, neither Greater Prairie Chicken and quail were available on the market though prominently featured at other times. This was due to applicable game laws.

There were at least nineteen sorts of birds sold in the Chicago market during 1883.