Mexico: Mexican National Packing Co., 1908. First Edition. Oblong folio, cloth, 12 x 7 inches. With twenty-five silver gelatin photographs affixed to album leaves, each measuring 6 ¾ x 5 inches. Item #List506
John Wesley De Kay was an American businessman, playwright and eccentric socialite who, using funds amassed as a teenage newspaper and cattle owner in South Dakota, moved to Mexico in 1899 and established a high-profile career in meat packing. In his first decade in Mexico, he established the Mexican National Packing Company, also known as Popo. By 1910 De Kay would be dubbed the “Sausage King” of Mexico. De Kay simultaneously enjoyed a vanity career as a playwright and maintained a high-profile in society circles, and caused a minor scandal in theatre circles with an ill-fated play entitled Judas in 1910.
The present book of photographs, which is unrecorded, documents the opening of one of De Kay’s plants, the Uruapan Packing Plant, in 1908. At this point, De Kay was aligned with the Porfirio Diaz regime, and this plant represented the culmination of De Kay’s efforts to provide refrigerated meat to the local and global markets. The photographs in this album show the opening of the plant, with great ceremony, and include photographs of the Vice President Ramón Corral Verdugo and his party, as well as flattering photographs of the plant’s architecture, the killing floor, and notably the power turbines that powered the refrigerated plant. The Mexican National Meat Packing Co., or Popo, would employ a widespread advertising campaign aimed at a public averse to chilled meat. Popo was initially successful, until the Mexican Revolution of 1910 brought about events that eventually eliminated foreign ownership of the meat industry.
Overall a scarce record of an important episode in Mexican industrial history, and an engaging photographic record in its own right, with the photographs in very good condition with some silvering and the album in very good condition as well, the only flaw being bowing to the heavy cardstock mounts. Unrecorded in OCLC.
Status: On Hold