Phoenixville Phriday: The Public Market Places

ordinance.pngAs we’ve said before, this blog devoted to random snippets of history from Albany, Schenectady, and Troy will certainly not be stooping so low as to have a feature called “Phoenixville Phriday” just because we’ve moved to a new town far from our roots.

Just because it’s Friday, and just because this one’s about Phoenixville, be assured that this is not a “Phoenixville Phriday” post.

But still . . . the ordinances of the Borough of Phoenixville, “passed by the Burgess and Town Council” between 1852 and 1857, contained this interesting requirement regarding public market places in the borough:

“…There shall be established two market places, one on the north and the other on the south side of French creek; on the north side to be located on Main street, commencing at Vanderslice’s store, thence along the north side of said Main street, to John Mullin’s store. The market place on the south side of French creek, to be located on Bridge street, commencing at Samuel Kreamer’s store, and thence along the south sidewalk of said Bridge street to Main street, and thence along Main street to Church street, and these places to be and remain, and are hereby declared to be and remain Public Market Places, for the buying and selling of all kinds of provisions, victuals, and things of country produce and manufacture, on the days of Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday of every week, and that all manner of persons shall have liberty to expose to sale their meats, provisions, victuals, or country produce and manufacture, from carts or wagons, backed up to the curbs, or on such shambles, stalls booths, or other stands, not to extend more than five feet from the curb, . . . .”

The market was to be open 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. October through March, and 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. during the warmer months. The whole thing was under the control of an appointed Clerk of the Markets, who was to ensure fair weights and measures, with particular attention paid to proper sale of butter by weight. Those shorting their customers could see their butter seized:

“One third part of all butter lawfully seized shall be for the use of the clerk, and the remaining two-thirds for such use as the law directs.”

A pretty powerful incentive for the clerk to find something wrong with the scales.

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