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?


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.”


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.


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. 


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 .


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).


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.


Addendum early Now 2015: This unusual bulk tin for Jeyes Fluid by A.C. Nottingham, recently appeared at auction. I’d estimate it dates from the 1970s. 

JEYES FLUID tin made in Chch NZ by A C Nottingham EDIT copy

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

  1. Hi there. I am a family member W&R Smallbone who you refer to in this article. I thought you might like to know that some of the historical information in this article is incorrect. The W stands for Walter Smallbone and the R stands for Roy. This company was formed when Walters company (that Roy was the GM of) went broke and took over the operations of the old company. Roy lined up Bank funding to pay the debts. The Share holding was 98% Roy and 2% Walter. Reginald Edward Smallbone was another uncle of Roy’s and he lived in Auckland. It was really cool to find this and see some images of the stuff they imported! Just thought you might like to know. I’m sure my uncle would be happy to give you more correct information if you’re interested. He’s done a lot of family history. Cheers, Hannah

  2. Thanks for this important information. I do my best with limited sources, but I don’t always get it right.

  3. Hello I am the great granddaughter of Arthur Charles Nottingham and enjoyed reading this post with the information about my whanua and would love more information on him if you have access to any. Thanks

    • Hello Sue,
      Thanks for your comment.
      No I don’t have any further information to hand apart from what I included in the article. However I am sure there is plenty out there, try sources like Ancestry.com. Most libraries also have a free edition you can use, if you can’t splash out on a membership which can be quite pricey.

  4. Hello! We have a debate going on- my friend Shona is trying to recall the name of the fragrant cleaning liquid ( pink colour), in a brown glass bottle , which was used to clean floors, public conveniences etc in the 1950s ( NZ). Various helpful suggestions have been offered, like Ajax, Vim, Camfosa, but I remember all those., and they were not pink. I wonderf if you could help? Thanks

    • Well, I think Chemico was a pink colour which was a cleanser paste in a tin, and wasn’t in a pink container in the 1950s, but was in the 1960s onwards. Windolene at this time was a pink fluid, in a clear glass bottle with a yellow/black label. There was also Pink brand dish washing liquid which I am sire is not what you’re thinking of. I’d say the first is a pretty good guess.

  5. That Dash box is a very interesting find in view of how differently it’s labeled from the way the more familiar Dash was always advertised. Your Dash box has the nerve to tout its hygroscopicity, which makes me think it was actually a drawback labeled as a benefit. Also, it’s an all-purpose high suds cleaner, while the more familiar Dash powder has always been sold as a low sudser for machine laundry only.

    Such switches in positioning are not unknown. Super Suds changed from a high sudsing soap powder to a low sudsing soapless powder. And it sometimes happens that when a trademark is licensed for different regions, the products sold under that name will have different characteristics and be similar enough only to justify their being under one trademark, such that they would conflict if different owners weren’t cooperating.

    Now that I think about it, maybe that Dash box was a mock-up a printer used to demonstrate their capabilities by making a subtle parody of an existing product. I’ve seen that at a trade show where somebody was showing off spec packaging.

  6. Good morning,
    I am a New Zealand author of fiction. You can read about me and my books on my website http://www.bolton.co.nz.
    I am currently writing a novel based in Auckland in 1950 and would like to scatter a few small newspaper advertisements from that year through the book to loosely complement the narrative. Unfortunately trademarks are involved and I think it’s wise to get permissions where I can.
    I saw your website and you are obviously knowledgeable about old brands.
    The thing is I’d like to use an old Camfosa ad from 1950 but I cannot figure out where to go to get permission.
    Can you help?
    Thank you.
    Robert Bolton.

  7. Hi, Packards Museum has 2 Jeyes bottles, one marked 1 AGM Made in New Zealand on the bottom. This is almost certainly Australian Glass Manufacturers, at Penrose since 1922. Suggests Jeyes was imported in bulk and repackaged.

    I still have a squat pink plastic container of Chemico but recall tin tins before that. 400gms.
    cheers Dave N

    • Thanks for your comment. Not sure why this suggests Jeyes fluid was imported, both Smallbone and Peterson were adept at manufacturing chemical products and had been doing so for decades. As were AGM manufacturing containers domestically from the 1920s.

      • Hi, I assumed Jeyes would hang onto the formula, but maybe they did let local producers make it.

        I’ve been looking at Marmite which was imported in bulk and put into AGM made jars, the same pattern in NZ & Aus until it was made here after about 1945.

        cheers Dave N

      • I know that Sanitarium started making Marmite domestically at least by the 1930s but of the exact date I am not sure. They had been established in Papanui from around 1900 so it is likely to be earlier say the 1920s, I don’t think AGM established in NZ until around 1922.. The fact that AGM and Sanitarium were successful trans-Tasman businesses is only coincidence. There were many more I am sure. The Relionus factory (S.W. Peterson) and Smallbone both had a long history when it came to domestic manufacture and distribution of chemical-based products which were overseas licenses. Licensed means the creator kept the formula and granted rights for it to be manufactured in other territories for a fee and/or royalty.

  8. Hi, Sanitarium nz says they got the secret formula just before WW2 and started manufacture, ‘its own Marmite’ in 1944. Sanitarium au says it was made at Cooranbong, starting 1944 and both say manufacture moved to Christchurch in the 1970s. Perhaps Marmite UK were a bit more fussy on licensing?
    Yes AGM were coincidences, starting in NZ at Penrose in 1922, and they also made Vegemite jars in Aus !
    Dave N

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