longwhitekid

Done Its Dash

In A.C. Nottingham & Son, Arthur Charles Nottingham, Bon Brushes Ltd, Camfosa disinfectant, Cyllin pastilles and lozenges, Dash detergent, Dry-Bright polish, Fisolene paints, Hudson's biscuits and confectionery, Hudsons, Jeyes' Fluid, Kalana tea, Liksopyne disinfectant, Persil, Procter & Gamble, Quickshine polish, R. Hudson & Co, Reginald Edward Smallbone, Renault Dauphine, Rinso, Scrubb's ammonia, Sprayforma freshener, W & R Smallbone, Walter Smallbone on November 26, 2014 at 10.46

Dash reassembled copy

A mysterious find is this unassembled box for household detergent powder. Was it a printer’s proof for a product that never actually launched?

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I like this time of the year because inevitably, one or two people visit and bring me a suitcase from New Zealand of the accumulated crap I’ve bought at online auction. It’s a big ask – but for some reason they agree to do this because my insanity…I mean…enthusiasm is so inspiring. Yeah, that’s it. Enthusiasm. It’s really catchy, like a communicable disease.

Actually, regardless of what time of the year it happens – it’s like my own Christmas. So, first off the rank is a recent purchase; an unmade box for Dash detergent under the Scrubb’s brand – which was originally British and primarily successful in New Zealand under license for their cloudy ammonia for quite a number of decades.

Not only a great design, but quite a curiosity, I thought. It’s hard to tell if this was rescued from a manufactory and so never run through a machine and die-cut into a box – or if it was a printer’s proof for a product that never made it to fruition. I’m edging towards the latter, given that I’ve never seen a single example of product or advertising for Dash in Aotearoa (not that I’m claiming to know or have seen anywhere near everything). If this is so – it would make it an extremely rare item, and one I am pleased to say I snapped up at an absolute bargain at just a couple of bucks with zero interest from any other collectors.

It may not have got off the ground down under – however Dash was very successful overseas and this brand is actually still going today, being one of the leading laundry detergents made by Procter & Gamble in the U.S. Even the design is effectively the same – now primarily blue rather than the green of my version. Actually at this time in America the main scheme for the packaging was red with a bit of blue. I get the feeling they may have adjusted the colour scheme to make it more closely resemble two of the New Zealand brands of the time who had the majority of the market share – Rinso and Persil. Here’s an old American Dash advert from 1962:


Dingy:”what needs adjustin’ is yaw detoigint.”

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Records show that The P&G Company registered Dash as a trademark in New Zealand in 1958-1959 (no mention of Scrubb’s, or the manufacturer, or even distributor on file in connection). The fact it’s under (the very appropriately named) Scrubb’s could indicate that the English base acquired the American rights to manufacture and distribute the Dash brand in their jurisdiction. However since P&G registered the rights themselves I’d say that the (proposed) manufacturer, Christchurch-based A.C. Nottingham & Son, made the decision to slot the washing powder under an already successful brand to piggyback off it’s good sales and reputation.

A. C Nottingham & Son was established by Arthur Charles Nottingham  (1860-1929). His son Robert Hilary Nottingham (1897-1974, the obviously favoured of Arthur’s impressive number of twenty children) was admitted as his partner in July of 1920. Arthur had a varied career in England, Australia and New Zealand before establishing himself as an agent – and by the early 1900s his client roster included Speight’s Ales, Penfold’s wines, The Royal as well as the British Foreign & Marine insurance companies, Perrier Champagne, Sanderson’s whisky, and Jeyes’ disinfectant and sheep dip.

dash detergeent ad peggy moffatt

American advert for Dash with one of my all-time favourite models Peggy Moffatt, June 1967. During this period, the box design was primarily red with a little blue.

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As time went on the Nottingham business came to specialise in household cleaners and the like – both the aforementioned Scrubb’s ammonia, and Jeyes’ Fluid (the latter still available) were staples of household cleanliness down under from at least the 1920s onwards. In fact the Nottinghams really went to town with the Jeyes’ brand producing toilet soap, sanitary animal powder, horticultural wash, and Cyllin throat pastilles and lozenges in the 1920s, as well as shaving cream.
Then in the 1950s the introduction of Jeypine disinfectant was a huge success, in fact I think it was around well into the 1980s in original and lavender versions as far as I remember – and may even still be going today. I also have a recently-acquired advert for Chalet of the late 1960s, a foil-wrapped process Swiss, showing that there was more to this company than a narrow cleaning product genre. They also dabbled in tea (the Kalana brand) and took a stab at pet products with soap for dogs in the Twenties, Fisolene paint products in the Fifties, and toilet paper again under the Jeyes’ brand in the 1970s.

camfosa adverts 1920s and 1960s sml

Two adverts for Camfosa disinfectant: On the L shows that Smallbone and Nottingham had a strong business relationship in this one from the Woman’s Weekly, Feb 1962. Image on n R from the Evening Post, Feb 1925, courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand. 

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However the Dash detergent endeavour was not the first time they had worked with W. & R. Smallbone – who were based in Wellington but with branches dotted around the country including, of course, Christchurch. Smallbone had also been for quite some time distributors for Nottingham’s other incredibly popular product “Clever Mary” cleanser which was present from at least the 1910s through the 1960s, and A.C. Nottingham had manufactured Camfosa for them in the 1960s, which I will get to shortly. So the history of these companies were intertwined as well as parallel, something I wasn’t aware of until now.

Smallbone were better known as manufacturers in later years rather than handling the products of others, however Walter Smallbone (1862-1941), like Nottingham, had also started out as an agent and importer in the 1880s in Wellington. Of course this story was bound to come back to food – he handled Hudson’s biscuits and confectionery but it turns out he had also had a stint as manager of the Wellington branch of Hudson’s for a time. Smallbone also represented products from Thistle (McFarlane’s line of jams and canned foods), Suchard Chocolates, Household Delight washing cream for laundry, Robertson’s Golden Shred marmalade, Tiger Tea, I.X.L. borax and extract of soap, and Flag (The Hayward Bros lines of sauces and pickles).

Chalet Cheese - A C Nottingham Ltd - NZ Woman Nov 1968 edit sml

Coincidentally this week I also acquired evidence for a product that I never would have guessed Nottingham branched into: cheese. This Chalet advert from  NZ Woman magazine, November 1968 .

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The R. Smallbone part of the equation was Reginald Edward (1876-1961) who had the majority of his career on the sea. At one time he was superintending engineer for Sanford Limited, a major seafood business still operating (yet another food connection) and was rather good friends with the owners – so both brothers were very well connected in the industry with some major players.

At some point Smallbone had moved from simply representing – to actual manufacturing – and were behind Camfosa, a very successful disinfectant (and soap) from the 1920s for at least five decades. Dry-Bright polish was a brand of the 1950s. (Bon Brushes Ltd also had a brand of polish called Bon’s Dry-Bright so it’s likely that Smallbone, perhaps with Nottingham’s involvement, had a finger in the pie of this Christchurch based business or perhaps even owned it at some time). Smallbone produced their own self-named cloudy ammonia in the Sixties as well as Liksopyne disinfectant and Sprayforma room freshener. They manufactured the Vincents brand of powders and pills, and acted as agents for much in demand Quickshine floor and furniture polish.

nottinghamd and smallbone products  copy

A variety of Smallbone and Nottingham products: From L Clever Mary (poss late 1950s), Scrubb’s ammonia  bottle (poss 1950s), Camfosa (1950s), Jeyes’ Fluid bottle (poss early 1960s), Clever mary (poss early 1960s), Jeyes’ Fluid bottle (poss early 1960s).

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Not satisfied with household products, they became owners of the franchise for Renault Cars from 1961-1967. Renault’s Dauphine models were assembled by Todd Motors’ Petone, Wellington plant under contract to Smallbone. This may appear quite a departure but seemingly the Smallbone family had other business interests in car dealerships, maintenance and car parts. The succeeding director, one of Walter’s children, N.R. Smallbone – passed away in 1969 – and it seems that Smallbone wound down in the early to mid 1970s. Nottingham seem to have been around until the early-mid 1980s (don’t quote me on that).

I believe that this box dates from the very early 1960s when, P&G, looking for someone “to take care of things” domestically, handed it over to Nottingham with Smallbone handling distribution. There’s no further mention of it so it may have been stalled or been short-lived in a market crowded with other products like Lux, Velvet, Laundrine, Taniwha, GHB, Waxine, Suds, Jet, Sunlight, Surf, St. Mungo, Rawleigh’s and of course Reckitt & Colman and Lever Brothers brands.

Jeypine poster by Jeyes copy

Nottingham’s Jeypine (in later decades adjusted to Jey Pine) disinfectant produced under the British Jeyes’ license, in a poster of the 1950s.

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All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2014. All rights reserved.

Bite Size: Cruel Candy

In A&R bubblegum, A.W. Allen, Allen's confectionery, Allens & Regina bubblegum, Big Charlie bubblegum, Bubble Gum, Candy, Chewing Gum, Chewing Gum Products Ltd, Confectioner, confectionery, Heards confectionery, J. Romison & Co. Ltd., Kool Fruits and Kool Mints, Lifesavers, Lifesavers candy, Mackintosh's, Mackintosh's confectionery, Mackintosh's Toffee De Luxe, Mad Hot Rods bubblegum, Nestlé, Oddfellows mints, Playtime gum, Regina Confections., Romison's confectionery, Steam Rollers mints, Topps bubblegum on October 26, 2014 at 10.46

Cruel Candy LWK copy

In 1910 in Melbourne, Australia, an elderly man was killed by a steamroller in a tragic accident. John Tanner, walking in front of the machine on the job for the local council, was momentarily distracted by a ratchet horse trotting along the road, and was squashed flat from foot to chin. The end…but maybe not.

Allen's steam rollers made in NZ  Jon Fabian edit copy

New Zealand-made  Steam Rollers wrapper and logo detail, note how at this time the Allen’s brand seems to have been scrubbed. Image courtesy of Jon Fabian collection.

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This event apparently inspired the illustration that formed the packet design for “Steam Roller” mints, so the story goes. I don’t know how much truth there is to this tale that was circulated amongst children of the 1960s, but even if it’s an urban myth I don’t really care – because it makes such a good story. Regardless the fact that someone did befall this unfortunate accident that’s claimed to be depicted –  is an interesting coincidence. If this wasn’t the idea that spawned the creepy design, then on its own it’s inexplicable and very strange. The fellow in it clearly looks to be in agony and distress, and not in a comedic way. If it wasn’t Tanner’s unfortunate demise that sparked the Steam Rollers imagery, then why did they choose it?

Allen's steam rollers Collector cards Australia Jon Fabian 1

Allen’s collector cards advertising  Steam Rollers, Image courtesy of Jon Fabian collection..

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Most of the adverts for the candy seem to be from 1933, so a guess would be they were perhaps launched around that time. Of course Allen’s, originally an Australian brand with its roots in the 1890s, had quite a history in New Zealand. In fact the wrapper featured here, found in an Australian tome where it had been used as a bookmark, was made in Aotearoa, seemingly sometime in the 1990s, I’m guessing. It goes right back to their complicated involvement with the (recently revived) Regina brand, with which they joined forces and made A&R and Playtime bubblegum from the mid 1960s, and Big Charlie and Topps for a while in the 1980s, amongst other lesser known and short-lived brands. Most people would remember the hundreds of different sets of collector cards that were issued over the years by Allens & Regina like “Mad Hot Rods” which were hugely popular and are still highly collectable today.

A DREADFUL DEATH BY STEAM ROLLER Barrier Miner Broken Hill NSW Wednesday 20 July 1910 copy

Tanner’s death: Barrier Miner, Broken Hill, NSW. Wednesday 20 July, 1910. Image courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia.

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I also remember the others in the Allen’s range of wrapped roll candies – Butter Menthols, Fruit Tingles, Soothers, Kool Fruits and Kool Mints, Butter Scotch, Anticol lozenges, and I think Irish Moss jubes, Mixed Fruit and Black Currant Pastilles. I’m sure they finally stopped making Steam Rollers and the others quite a few years back; they were definitely still round in the late Eighties, but what happened after that – I don’t know. Steam Rollers were finally discontinued in Australia around 2012. But right until the end the macabre logo remained.

Allen's steam rollers Collector cards Australia Jon Fabian 1930s blue copy

Allen’s collector cards advertising  Steam Rollers, Image courtesy of Jon Fabian collection..

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Ownership of the Allen’s business in New Zealand passed to Nestlé sometime between 1989 and 1994 (sources differ), from there on the brand acquired the long-running Heard’s, Mackintosh’s, Lifesavers and Oddfellow brands along the way – later making Sporties, Minties, Slammers and Fantales. The Allen’s range is still going today, albeit whittled down to just a few lines in Aotearoa and only a couple of the “classics” left. In Australia Allen’s still claim to be the top-selling sugar confectionery brand – but like the story about the Steam Rollers logo, I can’t say how reliable this is.

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All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2014. All rights reserved.

Licking the Tiki : The Definition of Identity

In Australians being racist, Australians making jokes of other cultures, Australians Stealing Shit, Chelsea Sugar Refinery, CSR sugar, Depot Artspace, Golden Syrup, Hi Life yoghurt, In Search of the Vernacular, Liki Tiki, Mr. Vintage, Museum of the Vernacular, Pavlova, Peter Alsop, Publication, Selling The Dream, The Cultural Mapping Project on September 30, 2014 at 10.46

chealsea goldie syrup repeat copy smaller gold

Inspired by Chelsea Sugar Refinery’s iconic CSR golden syrup, and a rather well-known, somewhat sentimental (some may even say syrupy) Kiwi artist of Māori portraits from times gone by, I created this Warholesque repeat design to accompany the article for the book.

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Ah, the quaint lacuna of Kiwi popular culture.
I am pretty sure it was actually “unpopular culture” until maybe Peter Jackson got famous in Hollywood, because I really don’t think the rest of the world was that interested until then.

So, what comprises Aotearoa’s “identity” in this respect? It is not actually the first time that these questions have been put to me to answer. The reason, I suppose, that they have been repeatedly asked is, because – much like “what is love?”, and more pertinently in this case, “what is art?” the answer is for the most part more slippery than holding an unwrapped Whittaker’s in a hot car on a summer’s day. I can definitely tell you that a “Hobbit” is not, and will never be Kiwiana, ever. As hard as they try to spin it. Sorry about it.

Geographical distance is really an over-riding factor in developing uniqueness I think. Distance also, as a long term ex-pat, gives me a great deal of objectivity. In fact if Aotearoa was further away from everything else, Australia would neither be able to make jokes about New Zealand being a sixth state, or steal most of our good shit and say it is theirs (Pharlap, Pavlova, Split Enz, the list goes on). However It would not, unfortunately, stop them from making jokes about our bumming sheep.

I am, of course, seeing these questions from a perspective of an artist-slash-designer, for the most part ex. I now spend more time researching and writing about Kiwi food and drink brands of time gone by, and sometimes recreating the lost artwork for what I consider, as a seasoned eye, the best examples of the genre. This is what I do with my Longwhitekid online journal.

Mr-Vintage-Liki-Tiki-Womens-T-Shirt-Small edit copy

The “Liki Tiki”  apparel design from the popular “Mr. Vintage” brand. Image courtesy of  www.mrvintage.co.nz. P.S., it looks like they’ve stopped making these however there’s a company in Australia called Mighty Ape that may still have some

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Truth be told, there isn’t anything that unique for the most part about New Zealand popular cultural/design identity until more recent times when we actually became conscious of having an “image”, and a need to articulate that accordingly. In fact, although the changeover to domestic manufacture was really a happening thing by the 1930s – well into the 1960s items from “the mother country” were unbelievably still seen as “better stuff” – and we still at least in part imported everything from chocolate to board games and toys, drinks, sewing accoutrements, sticking plaster and pharmaceuticals, cleaning products, infant foods and formulas, fine china, children’s annuals and magazines.

Amazingly, it wasn’t until the early 1970s that we switched from “God Save The Queen” to our own anthem. The fact that we were tied to British apron strings so late in the piece probably makes a valid contribution as to why exactly we feel such a necessity to articulate so strongly an identity in the form of things undeniably Aotearoan, if that is a word (it is now).

This perhaps is a separate question if you consider it from a financial point of view – and the rewards that are to be reaped, by deliberately constructing a palatable package that sums up the country’s face. Actually, I only want to make it a separate question because I find talk about economics versus culture, and the corporatisation of anything and everything – not only boring, but repulsive. Hey, that’s just me.

Hi-Life Yoggit stickers circa 1980 freddie fruit salad

Sticker set published from 1980 through the first half of the decade to promote Hi Life Yoggit. These stickers were popular on leather school satchels and exercise books (well, maybe not this particular one). The dodgy stereotypes did not go unnoticed, apparently resulting in school age children dubbing the brand “Lo Life”. Image courtesy of Steve Williams collection. 

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Money matters aside, the concern likely has a lot to do with sentimentality; a luxury which is seemingly now afforded in lavish amounts to the X+ Y generation with too many things, and too much time on their hands to think about stuff. Certainly when I post examples online, undeniably the strongest reaction is for anything that dates between that late 1960s and the late 1980s. Apart from the reason I just explained – this is simply because the audience not only have the easy technology to inter/act on those memories – but also because they’re not dead (yet, but wait for it).

I view the shortlist of purported “Kiwiana” icons as a rather middling bunch – with no unique foodstuffs making it in besides perhaps Edmonds, Tip-Top, Wattie’s and L&P. Wouldn’t Muttonbirds be more appropriate than canned beans and fizzy drink? Just saying.
If you want to strategically pinpoint that uniqueness factor – it is actually a very narrow thing, and one definitely needs to utilize strictness when it comes to categorizing “true Kiwiana”. It needs to tick all the Paua shell boxes, so to speak.

Art and design from the tourism genre has always been unquestionably unique. This is something that has been focussed on recently and explored by Peter Alsop in his book “Selling the Dream” and the series of essays within which explore the marketing of early New Zealand tourism, so I need not elaborate.

Selling-the-Dream-cvr-72ppi_1024x1024 copy

“Selling The Dream” by Peter Alsop, published in 2012 by Craig Potton, focuses on the beautiful and unique art of New Zealand Tourism. 

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When I look at examples that truly set us apart they often have a reference to indigenous culture, because quite frankly – it’s all pretty honkified and spongy white until you meld the two; sort of like sprinkling hundreds ‘n’ thousands on Māori Bread. There you have it! You know that you won’t find that unique aspect anywhere else in the world.

You can include anything with Kiwis, ferns, Tuis, and tikis. “Maori” apples and “Native” sauce are other, ancient, examples that spring to mind; They are brand trademarks that contained imagery that may have been acceptable at one time, but would of course be highly inappropriate now. And more pertinently, were done without any sense of humour – which is even more offensive in my opinion (but, as seems an almost full-time occupation for so many now, it would give the opportunity to tut-tut disapprovingly) .

Along with the Hi-Life yoghurt brand of the early eighties which issued a sticker set including “Freddie Fruit Salad” with his pink clogs, limp wrist and handbag – those hoary potboilers would never fly in contemporary times. And in a way I am sad, for the more inappropriate and ludicrous those old rarities are in our current PC-gone-mad climate, the more I like them. After all, who doesn’t like to point and laugh, particularly if it’s at ourselves? It shows how self-confident and sure of our identity we are. …doesn’t it. Well, doesn’t it?

chealsea goldie syrup no background  copy

Solo version of the can design in the original 1970s colours, to accompany the article for the book “In Search of the Vernacular”.

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The process during a period of the formulation of a conscious identity is always the fascinating part. It’s exactly the not knowing how it is going to turn out. It’s like baking something from a new recipe (not Lamingtons – I think the Aussies can claim that – and I say fair trade; they are welcome to that one if we get to keep our meringue icon).

There is always that “tipping point” – the moment where one becomes so self-aware of an identity that the next step is inevitably self-referential. And from there it rapidly descends into the fetid sewer of cliché and, ergo, parody. Which is great if it is done well and you are predisposed to cynicism like me; I don’t think anyone would argue that Kiwis aren’t experts at this when it comes to advertising (think the Toyota Hi-Lux “Bugger”, or NZI Insurance “Everyone Steals Your Stuff” campaigns in particular).

All that said, who has summed these aspects up best in my opinion? I think clothing company Mr. Vintage, when they did a brilliantly simple design called “Liki Tiki” just a few years back, which featured the traditional Māori figurine slurping lasciviously on a Frosty Boy cone. Enough said.

 

Licking the Tiki : The Definition of Identity was first published in 2013 as part of  “In Search of the Vernacular” a publication by The Cultural Mapping Project in association with Depot Artspace and The Museum of the Vernacular; a collection of artwork and writing documenting a quest to uncover Aotearoa’s rich, diverse, evolving and distinct cultural identity.

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All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2014. All rights reserved.

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