Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire

Wholesale loads of Mexican Baskets (1902)


This photograph depicts three Mexican men with large bundles of baskets on their backs. From the title of this photograph, “Wholesale loads of Mexican baskets”, it is evident that these workers are tradesmen who specialize in the creation and sale of these baskets to make a living. However, while initially looking at this picture one question that kept occurring was, why do each of these men have so many baskets? Further analysis can help answer this. Aside from the baskets, these men are also carrying walking sticks. Through these walking sticks, one can calculate that these men have traveled long distances to sell these goods. However, when looking more closely, one might also realize that they are standing on a railroad track. Because of this, and coupled with the walking sticks that these men are holding, shows that these men traveled to reach the railroad track where they would sell these goods to trains that stop there. These facts help answer the previous question regarding the number of baskets. The railroad allowed for mass quantities of people, goods, and ideas to travel with ease. Looking back at the title, “Wholesale loads of Mexican baskets”, one can conclude that rather than selling each basket, these men traded in large quantities of baskets at once, lowering the ease of sale and allowing them to make and sell more baskets more quickly.

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