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Feb 04

The Apple Auction

On an otherwise ordinary morning almost a century ago, pandemonium broke out in one Stanley Street saleroom all thanks the arrival of a humble piece of fruit. There were strident cries and veracious jeering, peppy jumping and passionate stick-waving as a crowd of over three hundred merchants vied for the attention of the deafened Victoria Street in the early 20th centuryauctioneer. The raucous event was unparalleled in living memory, and the reason? This day was the first time in four years that a consignment of American and Canadian apples had been available to buy on UK shores. Imports had been cancelled near the start of World War One leaving apple-lovers longing for the return of the crunch. Liverpool being a chief port was an early beneficiary in the reappearance of the long-lost fruit and the room that day was crowded full of eager salesman keen to get their hands on the produce. Sellers from all over the country descended upon the city and despite the shipment being rather on the large side, a number still returned to their businesses empty handed. However hungry local householders could still expect a moderate supply on the shelves at their local grocer selling at a retail price of no more than 9d per pound (appx £1.70) During the week of December 19, 1918 the American steamer Alsatian delivered 6,000 barrels of apples, the Bohemian brought over 9,700 barrels as well as 8,600 boxes, and the Belgic carried a whopping 28,000 boxes.  A barrel was three times as full as a box but some had been set aside by the Government for the soldiering stomachs of the army.

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