market stall outside leyton branch, c1909. 41kb.

Market stall outside Leyton branch, c1909. 41Kb
The best eggs were English new laid supplied by Frank Sainsbury from Suffolk, and from Lloyd Maunder of Tiverton, Devon. Extra large English new laid eggs were renowned as double-yolkers and were a firm favourite with customers.

Huge wooden crates of eggs also arrived from Poland, Russia and even China. John Benjamin recalled:

Large quantities came from Ireland in the spring and summer packed in crates with very thick layers of straw. These crates contained as many as eighty long hundreds, that is 9,600 eggs, and strange as it may seem, very few were broken.

Foreign eggs were sometimes very small, very cheap or even bad, which made checking the eggs particularly important. This was done by holding each egg in front of a candle to see inside, a process known as 'candling.'

Small wicker baskets were provided so that customers could select their own eggs if they wished. Eggs could be bought singly, as well as by the dozen or half dozen, and mental arithmetic such as 'seven eggs at three-farthings each' was a useful test of an egg boy's head for figures.

There was a special counting system which was used when ordering or checking the contents of a crate:

  • Six eggs = one Hand (three eggs in each human hand).
  • Twenty Hands = one Long Hundred.
  • Three Long Hundreds = one Box.
  • Four Boxes = one Case.

For more information on shopkeepers' counting systems, go to the Reference Library.

Go back to inside the store.

Copyright J Sainsbury plc, 2000.