longwhitekid

Archive for the ‘Wattie’s’ Category

A Frosty Phenomenon

In "K" Brand, Abel's Ltd., Batchelor's Surprise Peas, Birds Eye Frozen Foods, Birds Eye NZ Ltd, Butland Industries, Clarence Frank Birdseye, Continental Foods, Continental soups, Crest Fine Foods, Frying Saucers, Goldman Sachs/Postum Cereals, Handy Andy cleaner, Impulse deodorant, J. Wattie Foods Limited, J.R. Butland, Kirkpatrick, Knights Castille soap, Lever Bros (N.Z.) Ltd, Lever Products, Lifebuoy, Lucky Whip cream, Lux, Margarine Unie, Monkey Brand soap, Oak, Rosella Foods, S. Kirkpatrick & Company, Simplot, Solvol soap, Stockpot vegetables, Surprise, Thompson & Hill, Unilever, Van den Bergh Foods, Vim cleaner, Wall's ice cream, Wall's Ice Cream Ltd, Wattie Cannery Ltd, Wattie's, William Hesketh Lever on June 11, 2014 at 10.46

Crest Surprise dried  beans box recreation  copy

A recreation of  panels from a Surprise dried beans box, dated some time between 1970-76. I used a picture of a box sold on Trade Me in order to remake the graphics.

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Who remembers the Surprise brand? Everyone should. Especially the peas. I recall well how they were heavily advertised on television in the late 1970s and early 1980s – it was on relentless rotation!
However it may have been forgotten that Surprise were around long before that; as far back as the 1950s in New Zealand with pea and bean products – both dried and frozen.

Initially I wrote this article on the premise that the Surprise brand likely started out as a subsidiary of J.R. Butland’s Crest Fine Foods, later Butland Industries, given the logo is prominently displayed on the packaging. Crest was for some time the most successful (mainly canned) food business in New Zealand until usurped by the Wattie’s line (Butland had his initial success with the invention of Chesdale Cheese and was also behind the Goldpack fruit brand amongst others).

History is confusing around how the Crest brand passed from one owner to the next. My research shows that the brand changed hands in 1959 – but that Wattie’s kept producing the frozen stuff on behalf of Unilever until 1961 or so. Another record shows the Crest brand passing via S. Kirkpatrick & Company Ltd (the “K” Brand) to J. Wattie Foods Limited in 1960 (Wattie’s had also bought both “K” and Thompson & Hill’s OAK brands in this year).

shopper holding packets of surprise peas at Merrylands Shopping Centre, NSW  1966 editjpg

A shopper holding packets of surprise dried peas at Merrylands Shopping Centre, NSW, Australia. Taken in 1966 by Ern McQuillan, image courtesy of the National Library of Australia colelction, ref nlapic-vn4984301.

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I’d have to see more examples of packaging with notations on company details to develop a better tracking – but I would say that this was referring to the canned business, not the frozen and dried goods portion (Crest also included spices and sauce lines) – as by the early 1970s the Surprise brand, along with hugely popular Wall’s ice cream (covered here in September 2013) – is being marketed under the auspices of Birds Eye Frozen Foods NZ Ltd, a Unilever subsidiary. As the Crest brand died off for good around the mid-late 1970s that part was dropped by Unilever and the Surprise brand was slotted under Continental.

I assumed Surprise was by Crest – and that when Butland had supposedly sold the brand to Unilever (who then added some more product lines like packets of dried “Stockpot Vegetables” for various soups, amongst others) they acquired the Surprise line/ brand from Butland in the deal as well.

Just when I thought I had this all sorted – a Surprise sliced apples box appeared online for sale indicating it was manufactured by “Crest Foods Limited” alone. It’s similar to the box pictured here dated first half of the 1970s – except it seemed to have an imperial price written on it in pencil. Did Crest hold a license from Unilever for Surprise then conceded later? A quick check of records shows that the address for Crest on the box, at Jackson Street, Petone, Wellington – was the same address for Unilever’s Birds Eye.

Crest Surprise dried apples  box recreation  copy

 A recreation of  panels from a Surprise dried apples box, dated some time between 1970-76. I used a picture taken of items in a mock grocery store in an unknown museum collection to remake the artwork. It slightly differs from the earlier box at bottom.

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A potted Unilever history: William Hesketh Lever launched Sunlight Soap in England in 1885 and it was imported to Aotearoa until operations opened in Sydney in 1899 – at which point importation of the product into New Zealand switched to Australia. However it was not until quite late in the piece, 1919 in fact, that Lever products were produced domestically. In 1920 Lever merged with Dutch fats and oils business Margarine Unie modifying the company to an amalgamation of the two monikers – Unilever.

It’s the usual story with many Trans-Tasman companies – the development was quite separate as is the case with Unilever (until recently). Down under, Unilever spent a number of decades, well into the 1980s, still referring to themselves as Lever Products/Lever Bros (N.Z.) Ltd until they acquired the brands Oxo, Bushells, Faggs (coffee), and John West – and along with their Quality Packers business (including Choysa, Perfit, Red Rose and Q-P) all merged to form Unifoods NZ in 1988.

Over the years Unilever also produced Monkey Brand (household cleaning soap), and Lux was an enduring brand over the decades with soap powder, dish liquid and toilet soap lines. Other toilet soap brands were Lifebuoy, Castilever, Solvol and Knights Castille. Household cleaners Vim and Handy arrived in the 50s and 60s; Marge’s toothpaste and Impulse deodorant debuted in the 1980s. Soups included Continental , Country Style and Slim-a-Soup. There was instant Savoury Rice in beefy onion, Chinese style, and mild curry flavours. The Abel’s brand had vegetable oil, margarine, and copha – and Lucky Whip was a canned aerosol whipped cream. Frying Saucers, which I remember, were a frozen snack for deep-frying that resembled fishcakes but had mince meat inside. They were all the rage for a while when I was a child. Wall’s ice cream was at various times slotted in under the Birds Eye frozen foods subsidiary. The Surprise line was put under the Crest brand for some time. I am sure there were a number more brands that Unilever produced in New Zealand.

Crest Surprise quick-dried Sliced Beans box 12      copy

A Surprise dried beans box dated early-mid 1970s used to recreate my artwork for the box panels at top. Note the decimal price stamp shows it definitely dates after 1967.

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Clarence Frank Birdseye was a taxidermist turned inventor from Brooklyn who experimented with and developed a flash-freezing system for frozen foods in the 1920s after being inspired by Inuit Eskimo methods he observed on assignment in Newfoundland. Within a few short years, after having invested a few dollars in brine, ice and a fan – he had perfected the technique through trial and error (and one bankruptcy) and sold his General Seafood Corporation business for a fortune to Goldman Sachs/Postum Cereals (which later merged to become General Foods in America).

Again, the company histories separated out between the U.S. and the U.K. – having different owners in different global territories . The latter is how the brand came to Aotearoa via British Unilever – who bought rights from America to the ‘quick freezing’ patent and Birds Eye brand in the 1930s.

Home refrigeration started to popularise in the 1930s – and gave rise to the ice cream industry catering to this phenomenon – by packing their products for the first time in card quart and pint boxes to take home for post supper treats. Frozen vegetables were a new-fangled thing in New Zealand in the late 1940s but the above groundwork had already been laid for their immediate popularity.

Woman's Weekly  1964_Part1 CREST SURPRISE PEAS copy

Advert for Surprise peas by Crest, New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, 1964. I think this is the dried version.

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In 1947, Unilever of Britain contracted with Wattie’s to produce frozen peas, then a variety of vegetables and fruit under its Birds Eye brand – which I previously mentioned here in December 2011. Wattie’s then established a new plant at Gisborne in 1952 in order to continue accommodate this contract. Subsequently, as soon as their new processing facility opened Wattie’s followed with their own packaged peas and corn; this eventually became a huge range of frozen product that did their competition no harm in the marketplace for quite some time – for Birds Eye were around well into the 1980s before it fizzled out (the business was finally dismantled in 1984). However the brand had a longer and more popular life in Australia, where it continues to this day.

A 1956 still seems to show Birds Eye peas, raspberries and frozen fish (probably fingers, which launched in England that same year) amongst other items. According to Simplot, the current owners of the brand in Australasia – Birds Eye was not launched over the ditch until two years later in 1949 – although I think it’s clear by now that believing what a company writes on their own website about their own history is tantamount to listening to a claim from most politicians.

By the 1980s the Surprise brand had expanded to apples, peas, beans, butter beans, peas and carrots, minted peas, mixed vegetables, and chopped onions. I am sure there was more, this is just what I know of. The brand is still under Unilever and going Strong today, with four products – minted peas, garden peas and peas & corn (all in frozen and dried versions) and dried mixed vegetables ( a combo of pea, potatoes, beans and carrots). To my knowledge Wattie’s (now Heinz Wattie’s Ltd) continue their association with Unilever for production.

SURPRISE SLICED APPLES CREST FOODS LIMITED Jackson Street Petone looks to have imperial price 3 S 6 D edit copy

A Surprise dried apple box, likely dating between 1961-1966. I conject that by this time the ownership of the brand had transferred to Unilever, and product was being manufactured in their Wellington plant, hence the Jackson street, Petone address on the side.

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However right at the end of writing I ran across a U.K. radio advert archive which lists an ad for Surprise garden peas circa 1960 – suddenly making me wonder whether they were either exported to the U.K for sale by Unilever – or simply originally a Unilever brand all along . Something wasn’t right with my story.

Further to that, In an online discussion about the Surprise brand one person remembers “…Batchelor’s “Surprise” peas . My father devised the name and designed the packaging…” I’d love to follow up on this line of inquiry but the conversation was unfortunately archived. Some further digging into Unilever history in the U.K. revealed that in the early 1940s Van den Bergh Foods/Unilever had acquired a fifty year old British company named Batchelor’s which specialised in processing peas.

Then I ran across a 1966 promotional photo in the National Library of Australia archive of a woman holding a few packets of Surprise peas – almost the same package design I’ve featured in the 1964 advert here. However the brand name was different and after a lot of squinting I realised the product was under Rosella, not Birds Eye. Unilever were successful in a takeover of Rosella in 1963 and remained owners until 2002.

With Unilever’s Surprise line in New Zealand appearing under Crest just after the acquisition of that brand, then their Surprise line in Australia appearing under Rosella just after the acquisition of that brand, I started to see a pattern. I conject that Surprise was never a Crest brand and Unilever acquired the product and technique with their purchase of Batchelor’s in the U.K. They just threw it under whatever was the most popular brand in the marketplace at the time in a corresponding country – hence it’s move to Continental when Crest was given last rites in Aotearoa.

Surprise peas - IGA Shopping Game 1969 14th anniversary - 197 Four Square  copy

 L:  Surprise dried peas box from a 1977 Four Square stores brochure.  R: Surprise frozen and dried peas packets from an IGA stores shopping-themed board game issued as a promo for the 14th anniversary of the brand in New Zealand,  in 1969. 

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The conclusion is fairly clear that Surprise was never originally a Kiwi brand at all. The research still took me on an interesting journey, though. Although, – it seems that, despite my best efforts – this story is not quite wrapped up yet.

I’d date these particular boxes I’ve recreated at some time between 1970 and 1976 (closer to the former date) based on regular changes to the packaging, as well as being evidenced by the decimal price of 25 cents.

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Update June 2015: Katherine Milburn, one of the  Ephemera Librarians at the Hocken Library Collections archive, saw this article and was kind enough to contact me with some data on the frozen foods industry, as well as these scans of Surprise brand  bean boxes. They definitely date after 1972 as the printer’s mark is ‘Whitcoulls.’ This company wasn’t producing items of packaging until that year,  after a merger of huge printing and publishing businesses Whitcombe & Tombs  and  Coull Somerville Wilkie. However since I’ve established dates for the boxes in the main article as being in production as late as 1976 when they were still marking packaging of items with dual imperial and metrics for those slow on the uptake, that gives us a pretty good start date.

Surprise beans-Hocken Library Collection  (1) edit sml

Surprise beans-Hocken Library Collection  (2) edit sml

As for a cut-off date, well our only clue is the  complete absence of a barcode, so probably prior to around 1982. I also remember this Whitcoulls logo in use in the late 1970s to early 1980s.  So, two versions of a box for the same product. Obviously the yellow one is earlier at 32 cents. Plus the mustard theme just screams of the decade they call ‘the one that style forgot’ (I beg to differ on this point). So I’d say late 1970s for this one; the green version shows the price has now risen to 41 cents so a guess of the very early 1980s.

Surprise beans-Hocken Library Collection  (3) edit sml

Surprise beans-Hocken Library Collection  (4) edit sml

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

Bean And Gone

In Beans, Bernard Roundhill, Canned vegetables, Peas, Wattie Cannery Ltd, Wattie's on March 15, 2014 at 10.46

Wattie's Garden Peas 1950s  pre Feb 1952 edit further smaller

An early-mid-1950s label design, image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection.

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Today’s post is a short and sweet one, focusing on labels, that I know of,  for Wattie’s peas and beans that have been produced over the years (excluding boxes or packets  for frozen and dried products).

Canned peas were one of the all-time most popular and enduring products along with peach halves, tomato sauce, Bartlett pears in syrup, creamed sweet corn, and baked beans or spaghetti (I imagine that their ranking would be quite low today given the quality of quick frozen product). One of the earliest Wattie’s products launched in 1937, canned peas have been relentlessly advertised through the decades. Although, seemingly Wattie’s felt no need to advertise at all until after the second world war was over when their contracts for ration supply had really wound down, and they were planning on keeping the ball in the air as far as profit margins – meaning a slew of new products urgently needed to be marketed.

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garden peas on shelves 1959

This can label was in use between at least 1956-1959, as evidenced by slides I previously wrote about here. This design was also made into a miniature and given away as a promotional lighter, now rare and highly collectible. I recreated the design from the images captured on film as they came off the conveyor belt.

The company had the foresight to launch “experimental” packs of asparagus and peas into the marketplace in 1936 as a test run, and it had been met with a very positive response from the consumer. This was great foresight, since through 1935-1937 fruit crops met with massive failure due to a combination of brown rot and hail – which effectively destroyed them.

At the point Wattie’s launched canned peas, it was a fledgling company, less than three years in and had a total range of seven products (peaches, pears, cherries, asparagus, tomato soup and a range of jams were the others), and also manufactured eleven different types of bulk fruit pulps – which were for the most part sold to other jam, jelly and conserve manufacturers.

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gren peas l;ate 1940s

This design probably dates from the late 1940s. It really looks like classic Bernard Roundhill artwork.

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Beans were added to the roster in 1938. By this decade it’s known that commercial artist Bernard Roundhill was already working on the Wattie’s account – and continued to do so right through to the 1970s that I know of – so it is quite likely he worked on most, if not all of these label designs.

However I am not aware of any labels that date before the late 1940s that have survived – although I’d love to see some, of course. Even when Wattie’s issued a range of reproduction labels on their cans for the fiftieth anniversary of the company, supposedly representing the 1930s – it looks like they actually dated from early 1952-early 1954 judging by examples I’ve seen from the range of that era. So it seems likely that even the company don’t have any archive record of their earliest labeling endeavors.

garden peas on shelves 1963

A version of the classic pressure-cooked peas can, which was on the market around 1964.

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french sliced beans

A label that I would have guessed dates from the early to mid 1960s, judging by the range of the time – which mostly had a similar standard layout of a lemon background and a navy strip at the bottom. However the logo tells the story of a design that could go back to the 1950s.

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garden peas 1 lb 14 oz

The classic pressure-cooked garden peas can that was in use from the mid 1950s – at least 1956 – until well into the 1970s. Judging by the logo this dates from the late 1950s to early 1960s. The change of label designs was fairly arbitrary and some didn’t get a revamp for as long as ten to fifteen years, with other designs for the same product in the market concurrently.

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garden peas 11 oz

An eleven ounce version of the above label that I recreated. The logo tells the story of a design issued mid-1960s onwards, possibly as late as 1972. Both these and the pair of stringless sliced French beans labels at bottom were alleged to be part of a collection that was amassed by a marketing manager who worked at a company from the 1950s  through the 1970s, and retained samples of all the products he handled during that period. I’ve covered this story here, here herehere, here and here.

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Wattie's Label green beans late 1940s-early 1950s     pre Feb 1952 edit more copy  smaller

This can label  was known to be on the shelves around 1954. By this time Wattie’s now had quite a large range of products. Up until the end of the war the range was quite compact. This image originally courtesy of Peter Michel.

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green beans early 1960s-early 1970s 1 lb

A label for French beans was definitely on the supermarket shelves in 1963-1964 although the logo indicates it was likely in production later in the decade.

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green beans early 1960s-early 1970s 11 oz

An eleven ounce version of the above label, again around 1963-1972. Both are recreations. There was also at least one completely different bean can design also on the market at the same time.

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

Unblemished Record: The Flawless Reign of Bernard Roundhill

In Air New Zealand, Alberto Vargas, Bernard Roundhill, Bixies, Blue Bonnet, Blue Bonnet Jams, board games, Bond & Bond, Butland Industries, C.L. Innes & Co. Ltd, Cadbury Fry Hudson, Cadbury's, Cereal Foods (N.Z.) Ltd, Champ pet food, Cheesecake art, Choysa Tea, commercial artist, Coulls Somerville Wilkie, Craig's canned foods, Craig's Jams, Crest Fine Foods, DB Lager, Diamond cereals, Diamond Pasta, Dolphin swinmsuits, Dominion Breweries, Duval Dimwit, Edmonds, Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd, Four Square, Four Square Supermarkets, George Petty, Goldpack dried fruits, Goldpack Products, Holdsons games, Illustrators, Innes soft drinks and cordials, Irvine & Stevenson, J.R. Butland, Jason Products, Judith Ann Field, Ken Chapman designer, Kia-Ora jams, Lincoln Games, Little Chief socks, Ltd. calendars, Mabel Rollins Harris artist, McKenzies stores, Montana Wines, New Zealand Home Journal, Norman Rockwell, O-Tis oatmeal, Oak, Peter Pan ice cream, Peter the Pilot, Pin ups, Qantas Airways, RNZAF, Robinson's, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Sanitarium Health Foods, Scientology, Skippy the dog, Speights beer, St. George, Swiss Maid dairy products, Teachatot, TEAL Airways, The Mirror magazine, Thompson & Hill, Timaru Milling Co, Tiny & Droop, Wattie's, White's Aviation, Whittome & Stevenson, Winstone Limited, Wyona canned foods, Yates seeds on December 2, 2013 at 10.46

Diamond O-Tis by Timaru Milling back of Peter The Pilot on Active Service cereal card Album 1941 Bernard Roundhill BACK EDIT copy

An advertisement for Diamond O-Tis, by Timaru Milling Co., from the back of the “Peter The Pilot on Active Service” cereal card album, issued 1941. Designed and printed at Coulls Somerville Wilkie, Dunedin. Image courtesy of Dave Homewood, from Wings Over Cambridge http://www.cambridgeairforce.org.nz/

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Bernard Roundhill was probably Aotearoa’s most successful commercial artist, and certainly the most feted, in retrospect. He has come to be known as the “King of the Airbrush.” That’s a fair moniker; he was a pioneer and pretty much master of the technique in New Zealand. He’s also been described as “the founding father of commercial art”.
This a bit cheeky as he was not – that phrase indicates he was the first and possibly also suggests he was the best. Neither of these things are particularly true. All you have to think of is Joseph Bruno Moran, for instance, and a list of others that came before him and which no doubt he was beholden to. There’s no question he was easily and heavily influenced by others and ergo, indebted to those that were successfully working previously.

Portrait of Bernie Roundhill holding a book titled Information Circular NLNZ collection Nov 1945 Ref WA-00758-G Photograph  by Whites Aviation

Portrait of Bernie Roundhill by White’s Aviation, late 1945, holding a book titled “Information Circular”, which probably has one of his cover designs. NLNZ collection, Ref WA-00758-G

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Born in 1911, Hull, Yorkshire, England to John William and Mabel nee Tate – Bernie, as he was known to most, had two older brothers Kenneth Spencer and Maurice William, one older sister Mabel who was born 1908 in New Zealand, and two younger brothers.
 

Auckland in Fifty Years 1956 Bernard Roundhill  for Winstones Te Papa collection  copy

“Auckland In The Year 2000”, artwork for Winstone’s promotional book centrefold, 1956, is Roundhill’s most famous illustration. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000659/001/0001

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John William Roundhill (b.1887), having also hailed from Hull, had immigrated to New Zealand in 1903 with his brother Alfred. They both worked as labourers in the Timaru, Canterbury area. He met Mabel Tate there whom he married in March 1905. Alfred met Mary Jane Dukes and married her also in Timaru, 1905.

Dolphin swimsuits illustration by Bernard Roundhill for Whites Aviation Ltd Ref WA-03719-F Alexander Turnbull Library EDIT

Dolphin swimsuits advertisement for Whites Aviation Ltd, 1950. Image courtesy of  Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref WA-03719-F 

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At some point between 1908 and 1911 the Roundhills returned to Britain, where Bernard was born. The family left England again in 1912 – for good this time. His brother Charles came into the world just before they returned to New Zealand. Many sources repeat information from others ad hoc without checking, and quote Bernard as being three years old on arrival; this is incorrect.

Edmonds Advertising Framed palsop 1 Bernard roundhill perhaps EDIT cfurther

Double page spread advert from a 1959  Edmond’s “Sure To Rise” cookbook, which I believe was the 4th printing of the Deluxe version of the 1956 8th edition.

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They settled in Gleniti, Timaru at first, and then later in the 1910s moved to Fairlie, South Canterbury. A younger brother , George, was born in 1917. By this time a young Bernard was already obsessively drawing.
One of the stories repeated that Bernard allegedly told was of around this time, seeing the first plane in New Zealand fly over, and chasing it across the fields with 25 shillings given to him by his father to beg the pilot to take him up – thus beginning his life-long obsession with all things aviation and space orientated and the sense of freedom that entailed. How fanciful this tale may be is worth consideration given that it was not until 1920 the first flight in Aotearoa flew across Cook Strait. Only the third flight in New Zealand the following year by Bert Mercer that was in the vicinity, when he flew from Invercargill to Auckland.

Bernard Roundhill Painting of a Baby Dog & Slipper for magazine cover 1950 EDIT

Painting of “Baby, Dog & Slipper” for a magazine cover, 1950. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000660/001/0003.

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Roundhill studied architectural drafting by correspondence, in the late 1920s. Bernard was also a cabinet maker and learned the trade from his father – known as a perfectionist, as was apparently his spouse. This obviously had an impact on a formative Bernard and influenced his work practice.

Innes Cordial labels by Bernard Roundhill Te Papa copy

Innes cordial labels for C.L. Innes & Co. Ltd: from left – Reg: CA000680/001/0015 produced 1956, Reg:CA000680/001/0024 produced mid-late 1950s, and Reg:CA000680/001/0023, produced mid-late 1950s. Images courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

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He then moved to Timaru around 1931 where he got his foot in the door of commercial art,  trying his hand professionally at window display material – designing signs, price tags and jewellers’ cards for various businesses. During this period of the lean depression years he also created paintings on material to earn money, daubing demons and heroes on velvet cushion covers and firescreens to earn a meagre living; all the items being dispersed by two salesman friends.

Bernard Roundhill art - OAK WATTIE'S WYONA ROBINSON'S HOLDSON ST GEORGE PETER PAN BLUE BONNET SWISS MAID WONDER SET HAIRSPRAY Te Papa Collection between 1961-1977

A selection of Roundhill Studio designs for various companies. Although this photo looks like it dates from the late 1950s, it was actually taken of contemporary products sometime between 1971-1976. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000672/003/0002

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This followed a move to Dunedin where work was still thin on the ground, and at first he would accept anything going – recalling one job akin to performance art where he painted on the velvet dresses of live models behind the display glass of a store in The Octagon. This led to some textile design work creating floral patterns.

Bernard Roundhill, Fissionable material. Framed calendar print, 1950s Dunbar Sloane

“Fissionable Material”,  framed calendar print, 1950s, likely commissioned by L. R. Allen & Co., Ltd. Image courtesy of Dunbar Sloane Auctioneers.

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However it was not long before he started to become successful. By 1933 he began working as chief designer for both confectioners Cadbury Fry Hudson and publishers Coulls Somerville Wilkie in Dunedin, who shared his much-in-demand services, split morning and afternoon. It was here working for the latter he created some of his most well-known work – the “Peter the Pilot” character for Timaru Milling Co ‘s O-Tis breakfast cereal, doing a number of adverts, packaging items, album covers, trade cards, and other merchandise; records state from 1939 to 1954. Although, Peter the Pilot had already been issued as an album by 1938, and he continued to work for this company through to at least the early 1970s.

Bernard Roundill for Winstone   from Peter Alsop book sampler CROP

Original artwork for Willy, Lofty, Tiny and Droop: concreting and drain-laying, illustration for Winstone’s promotional book, 1956. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000659/002/0005

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About this time, Roundhill discovered the airbrush art technique after reading articles about American and German commercial art in a magazine, and inspired by this idea he developed it for his own work, purchasing an Aerograph with a hand-pump compressor, even constructing his own equipment and customising the process in order to create the smooth, graduated and mechanical effects he wanted to achieve. By his own estimation it took around seven years of long work days to learn the craft thoroughly enough to be comparable to the commercial artists he admired – whose work filled magazines like Popular Mechanics.

CHAMP - CHAMP PET FOOD COMPANY - Skippy The Dog J R BUTLAND (dog food and cat food) 1950s EDIT copy 1

Champ dog food can label, featuring Skippy the dog, for J.R. Butland, late 1950s. Private collection 

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In 1935 he married his first wife Eileen Grace Morey in Dunedin. In 1938 they were living at 20 Cranley Street, Dunedin Central, – but then the same year they picked up and relocated with Bernard’s parents at 11 Littlebourne Crescent. Just to add to a crowded situation, Bernard’s brother Kenneth, a carpenter, was also living at the family home (his father John William was also now working as a carpenter). At this time Roundhill worked on the 1939-1940 Centennial Exhibition, as well as for Wattie’s (canned foods) and Speights (beer).

Choysa Tea for Bond & Bond 1950 Bernard Roundhill - Art New Zealand edit

Choysa Tea advertisement,  for Bond & Bond, 1950.

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This move may have had something to do with Bernard commencing military service that year – as a draftsman in the intelligence office of the 8th Brigade, mainly drawing maps. Leigh-Ellen Roundhill, Bernard’s daughter, is now an artist herself working on the Gold Coast in Australia – “Like so many other men, he did not speak of his war years. What I do know is that he was in the Air Force and did the Bombsight surveying (a device used by aircraft to accurately drop bombs, Bombsights were a feature of most aircraft from WW I onwards). Then his commanding officer would keep him back in Wellington to do map work. His work was very hush-hush and I was told he was part of the Secret Service. “

Crest - Bartlett Pears label  - Mike Davidson EDIT

Crest Bartlett pears can label, for J.R. Butland, late 1950s. Image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection

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In 1942 he moved over to the Royal New Zealand Air Force and worked for the Government architect’s office. All seriousness and secret business aside, Roundhill developed “Wing Commander Duval Dimwit” for their instruction manuals during this time to bring “a little humour into them” in the vein of the RAF’s Pilot Officer Prune – and also did brochure covers and pin-up art for aircraft noses, basically whatever was required or desired.

Innes Lemonade Bernard Roundhill 1950-1951 CROP 1

The Innes Lemonade girl. Poster artwork for C.L. Innes & Co. Ltd., 1950-1951. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000672/001/0014

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It is said he moved to Auckland in 1939 although this cannot be true since his second wedding was in Otago – it wasn’t that long before the marriage with Eileen foundered and Roundhill had met someone else. I think biographers are confused in regards to Bernard’s service in which he was stationed in both Auckland and Wellington during those years, but not permanently. Eileen and Bernard begun divorce proceedings in late 1943. Still in Dunedin, he married his second wife Olive Ella Tasker, whom he had met in Wellington in 1944 whilst still with Eileen.

CREST tomato juice label copy

Crest tomato juice can label, for J.R. Butland, late 1950s. Private collection 

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In the process of research, I trawled through five hundred or more newspaper articles which ended up being mainly of various seemingly unrelated Roundhills competing in sports tournaments. There were adverts for a Miss M. Roundhill’s dress-making studio in the late 1930s-early 1940s in Lower Hutt (Alfred, Mary Jane and daughter Mary had moved there in the late 1920s). But there was hardly a thing of note – apart from his and Eileen ‘s divorce noted in an article unflatteringly entitled “Unhappy Marriages”.

design for Home Loan Poster Education 1960s Bernard Roundhill Te Papa collection crop

One of three designs commissioned by a home loan company, early 1960s. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000662/002/0007

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So where was the scandal? That was it, I’m afraid – three wives and only one dissolution. The rest of the time it was clearly nose to the grindstone giving a glossy finish to plums on can labels – if any company wanted plump berries and healthful, fresh-looking vegies, or hi-tech planes and spacecraft from another world – Roundhill was the go-to guy for quite a stretch. Leigh-Ellen recalls Bernard was a very keen gardener, landscaping the family home and “grew wonderful vegetables, as well as planting many fruit trees which I used to climb”. No doubt the bounty from this was inspiration for his illustration work.

Four Square - fine things of the future - colouring book 1 brentzconz EDIT

Colouring book cover designed for Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd’s Four Square stores, 1954. Private collection.

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Roundhill does not appear in the electoral roll in Auckland until 1946, so he and Olive must have made their move in 1945. During this period came a stint at an advertising agency studio; but it wasn’t long before he set up a freelance studio in Commerce Street. The couple resided in Dedwood Terrace, Ponsonby until the late 1940s to very early 1950s – when they moved to 1 Ranier Street, Ellerslie.

Four Square advertising picture - her list says butcher baker four square Likely Bernard Roundhill EDIT further final

 “A Treat in Store”, image possibly from a calendar, designed for Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd’s Four Square stores, late 1940s-early 1950s. Private collection.

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By 1947 He was airbrushing ink and gouache with an air compressor and adding watercolour brushwork by hand on top to create illustrations with a highly finished look that nobody else was achieving. In “A Treat In Store” A girl accompanied by her spaniel and a trolley full of products (such as Bird’s Custard) in tow, is about to enter a Four Square corner store holding a shopping list. It is so obviously Roundhill work done for Foodstuffs New Zealand Ltd (Four Square and Pam’s), and is very reminiscent of his other softly-hued cheesecake work like “Fissionable Material”.

Four Square Store cover of puzzle  envelope 1950s 1949-1950 likely Bernard Roundhill EDIT

Promotional puzzle showing many of Four Square’s line of products. Dates for this item vary greatly from 1942 to 1959 – but it was actually issued in 1949-1950. Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Manuscripts and Pictorial collection. Ref: Eph-F-GAMES-1950s-05-cover

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His pastel period of the late 1940s and early 1950s was all pinks, mints and aquas – and took a queue from the saccharine, romantic stylings of the very popular 1930s American calendar artist Mabel Rollins Harris’s idyllic works of children and glamour pin-ups. Even so the earlier work, such as his Peter the Pilot items, was markedly awkward and clunky in comparison to the later slick illustrations that became his trademark . Even further down the line when he’d really hit his stride, it was very hit and miss – there was often something a little wooden, and slightly distorted-looking about his renderings of people unless cropped close in a frame or off to the side to mask it. They were mostly neither graceful or believable; it was almost as if finish upstaged focus on form. Nevertheless, this work was still popular with clients – but let’s face it – still objects were his forte. Tomatoes and beans did not have to kick a ball or unfurl a sail.

Goldpack Apple Slices copy on the shelves in 1960 - Innes  Lemon Squash Cordial label mid 1950s copy

left: Innes cordial label, late 1950s, Image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection. Right: Goldpack dried apple box, late 1950s, private collection.

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From here he segued into calendar pin-up work of the early 1950s which he excelled at, probably because they were quite still and posed. Heavy influences are obvious on Roundhill’s cheesecake work from Alberto Vargas, George Petty, and the art direction of Esquire Magazine. They were created for Auckland calendar company L. R. Allen & Co Ltd. Auckland (which is still operating today), and some were used for W.D. & H.O. Wills (cigarettes).

Kauri Museum - Roundhill Peter the Pilot album 1939 -  Royal New Zealand Air Force display Rongotai Cover 1938

Right: Peter the Pilot’s “Century of Progress” album 1939. Image courtesy of The Kauri Museum collection, Matakohe. Left: Royal New Zealand Air Force, Rongotai display, souvenir booklet cover, 1938. The date begs the question as to whether Roundhill could have done this given he did not commence working with the RNZAF until the following year. Image courtesy of  Alexander Turnbull Library, who also question whether it’s authored by him. Ref: Eph-B-AIRFORCE-1938-01-front 

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Roundhill worked for many years as a freelance artist and purportedly established the Roundhill Studios, a large, stylish deco-style building – in Auckland in 1974 according to one of a few short articles that have been written over the recent years. Although the electoral rolls always give the address as Onehunga, it was actually in Ellerslie – at the same address as their home. Then another source describes his Ellerslie studio as “pre- supermarket days”- so 1950s.

Innes Tartan fruit cordials 1956 Te Papa edit

Innes Cordials packaging, for C.L. Innes & Co. Ltd., 1956. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: ACA000672/003/0007.

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There were two children of the union with Olive, previously mentioned daughter Leigh-Ellen – and also Dean Bernard Roundhill – who born in 1953. Leigh-Ellen says “It is possible the studio became registered as an Enterprise in the 1970s – but was indeed up and running by 1958. I remember a great deal of the studio as it was a big part of my life; this is where I grew up. My first recall is during the construction of the studio in 1957. It was attached to the family home in Ellerslie. Still only crawling, I climbed over all the building materials being used – only to be rescued by Bernard who was two thirds up a two storey ladder at the time.

Lincoln Electric Race Track box by Bernard Roundhill EDIT

Lincoln Electric Race Track box, 1950s-1960s, image courtesy of Clayton Blackwood collection.

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The studio was part of my play ground; and I wandered fairly freely in and out, watching my father and all the other artist staff work. I studied Bernard doing his airbrushing – no questions (to be) asked, so I was very still and silent as I observed. I learned a lot from watching them all, taking up art myself eventually. I recall him doing the beautiful fruit and flower labelling for Wattie’s and Yates, and various jam brands as well. And of course his Vargas lookalikes, which hung on the back walls of the studio.”

Little Chief Socks Bernard Roundhill 1949 Te Papa collection

Design for Little Chief Children’s Sox packaging, 1949. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000662/002/0003

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As far as canned (and boxed) fruit and vegetable products, Roundhill was known to have worked on label illustrations for Wattie’s and Wyona (General Foods), Crest (Butland), OAK (Thompson and Hills), St. George (Irvine and Stevenson), and Kia-Ora (Whittome and Stevenson) amongst others from the late 1950s through to at least the early 1970s. He had a fairly distinct style and his work was much more polished than other illustrators due to his technique. He was probably responsible for the majority of these designs in the marketplace for at least a couple of decades. As well as can labels, the studio was producing designs for a wide range of products from puzzles, mobiles, and calendars to wrapping paper, chocolate boxes, magazine covers, stationery, food packaging, and board games.

Modern Aircraft Album  CEREAL FOODS (NZ) WEETIES VITA-BRITS KORNIES  RICE FLAKES1950S EDIT copy

Wonder Book of Modern Aircraft Album, issued by Cereal Foods (N.Z.) Ltd., around the mid 1940s. Private collection

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Clients of this period included Little Chief (children’s socks), Winstone’s Limited (building materials), seed packets for Yates and McKenzie’s Stores, and The Mirror magazine. He worked on Butland Industries’ Goldpack brand, as well as their fictional home economics rep Judith Ann Field, and mascot character Skippy the terrier for Champ dog food. Holdson, Lincoln, and Philmar (board games and toys), New Zealand Home Journal, Diamond cereals and pasta (Timaru Milling Company Ltd), The New Zealand Ministry of Tourism, Ballet Russe (makeup), DB Lager (Dominion Breweries Ltd), Innes (soft drinks and cordials), Bond & Bond Ltd (Choysa Tea), Dolphin (swimwear), Edmonds, and aforementioned Foodstuffs NZ Ltd brands. I am sure this is just a small sampling of companies he completed work for.
 

Oak - Orange Marmalade- Thompson and Hills - Mike Davidson - prob early 1960s prob Roundhill artwork

OAK orange marmalade can label, for Thompson & Hills Ltd., probably early 1960s. Image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection.

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Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners NZ Conference Chch Nov-Dec 1916 - Roundhill in it prob John William EDIT copy

Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners Conference, Christchurch, 1916. There is a Roundhill specified in the group, probably Bernard’s father John William – I am guessing middle of back row based on physical appearance. Image courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref: PAColl-D-0423.

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However as his work progressed through the 1950s and the 1960s, the crafting of it became extraordinarily precise. The highly polished shapes and forms comprising his work were solid, smooth and soft cubist; reminiscent of Tamara de Lempicka’s celebrated Art Deco era portraits of European café society. The portfolio of images he created for Winstone, featuring the characters Willy, Lofty, Tiny & Droop are exemplary of this period.

Pin Ups - Bernard Roundhill copy

Left: “I Haven’t Got Much On Today”, 1950, Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000661/001/0006. Right: “Forgotten Something, Honey?” 1950-1951, Image courtesy of alisonmc on Flickr. Both likely calendar prints commissioned by L. R. Allen & Co., Ltd.

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In 1956 he designed his most famous illustration, the one that many people are familiar with – “Auckland in the Year 2000” – for Winstone’s, featuring streamlined, high tech craft whizzing between futuristic buildings of downtown Auckland, a feat of swooping late-Deco inspired line work exquisitely rendered to finished perfection with the airbrush by Roundhill. Interestingly, the illustration he is celebrated for was completely his own concept and creation, given carte blanche by the client to do whatever he liked to fill a double-page spread.

Rangitoto - Spaceport II - Auckland 2500 - The Ambassadors concepted 1960 completed early 1990s  Bernard Roundhill  Te Papa collection  copy

“The Ambassadors, Rangitoto Spaceport 11, Auckland in the Year 2500.” Begun in 1960, finished between 1990-1994. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te
Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000659/001/0002

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Also the influence of his early Scientology days, shine through in his work – in particular “The Ambassadors”, featuring space craft zooming over a futuristic Auckland harbour with Rangitoto looming in the background. The intergalactic pulp science fiction concepts, masquerading as religious tenets – of fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard who founded the movement – are obvious even down to the weird logo on the ship’s sail like a mutated cross between the Thetan and Illuminati symbols. This illustration somewhat mirrors the fable that Xenu brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling futuristic airliners, and stacked them around volcanoes. Still, they are rather visionary and you can compare them with what has come to pass in contemporary times and there are some remarkable features that have fortuitously become realties.

roundhill designs for Yates Seed Packets EDIT copy

Yates seed packets from the 1960s, Image courtesy of Sarah E. Laing collection, 44 Ways of Eating an Apple blog.  

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Roundhill, described as a quiet and withdrawn persona, had embraced the wacko cult in 1953, along with his wife of the time, during a period when he was, besides running the studio, deputy mayor of Ellerslie Borough (he had spent a number of years as a council member previous to this). An acquaintance who was teaching him the art of public speaking, passed him a book on the religion. He said of himself he “learned, through Scientology, to create art that could communicate to people….(through it I) received validation and learned to do it better and better.” The last part may have some basis in truth but the former is quite debatable since Roundhill had effectively been “communicating to people” very successfully through his work for a good twenty years before the religion ever came into his life.

skippy  - judith ann - ice cream baby - sanitarium bixies copy

Clockwise from top left: Portrait of Skippy the Dog,  for J.R. Butland’s Champ pet foods, 1950s, Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000672/003/0008. Point-of-sale advertising material for Sanitarium’s Bixies cereal.  Portrait of  Judith Ann Field, the fictional home economics rep for J.R. Butland’s Crest Foods, 1953. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000662/001/0004. Painting of baby with ice cream and dog, probably done for a magazine in the early 1950s.

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Along with gravity, communication and its language was a concept that fascinated him and he ruminated on often as he undertook his work – of which he had an extraordinary ability to focus on, to the point of being able to exclude everything else going on around him that may have been distracting. “When I’m doing artwork, there’s nothing else in existence as far as I’m concerned” he once said.

Teachatot Game by Holdsons 1960s-1970s retouched Bernard Roundhill

Holdson’s Teachatot game box for Thomas Holdsworth & Sons, issued 1961. Private collection.

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During the 1960s and 1970s, he was a very busy designer and continued to complete a huge amount of work. He may well have been the most prolific commercial artist during that time. Between commercial work that continued to flow in – he returned to his former Depression-era occupation of painting mystical and symbolic scenes on dark velvet; he had flirted with this style again in his spare time in the 1950s, making greeting cards.
His creations in this genre were fantastic, kitsch, and…pretty awful really – in fact so much so that I am not going to include a picture of one (it’s true what they say about not quitting your day job). For someone who had built a reputation for cheerful, colourful and glossy work, these tacky renderings of Kingfishers, sailing ships, woodsmen and deer were surprisingly dark and creepy. But really, when you look hard at the characters in his commercial work like his portrait of Judith Ann Field and others – there is something slightly unnerving about their glazed stares and sinister Stepfordesque perfection – like they are aliens that have been zipped into a full body disguise.

The Incredible Tale (Fisherman and Boy ) 1953 Bernard Roundhill Te Papa collection edit copy

“The Incredible Tale (Fisherman and boy)”, 1953. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg:CA000661/001/0003

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The most famous design he produced from the studio in his long career, one that went around the world, over and over, was during this period – the Air New Zealand Koru which was apparently designed originally in 1965 when TEAL became Air New Zealand and looked to replace its Southern Cross logo with something new and innovative. The koru was first applied to the tail of Air New Zealand aircraft with the arrival of the DC-10 in 1973, and has remained in use ever since.
Leigh-Ellen recalls: “I was banned from the studio when they were working on this, which was created by (graphic designer) Ken Chapman. I reasoned my way around that, and I watched the development of the project which was very exciting. I saw a lot of confidential things go on during it.” Although Roundhill mostly gets complete and unquestioned credit for this design, it seems he only came up with the original concept that was repeatedly returned to the drawing board, re-designed, developed and finished by members of his staff.

In amongst this period of great success resulting in the zenith of his most famous design – was also a period of tragedy for him. In 1967 his mother and his father John William and Mabel Roundhill both died within the year (sister Mabel had passed away ten years earlier). Then in 1969 son Dean Bernard Roundhill was killed in a road accident with a motorcycle at just 16 years old.

Whittomes Kia-Ora Jam - whittome & Stevenson- Mike Davidson prob early- mid 1960s prob Roundhill artwork

Kia-Ora jam can label, for Whittome & Stevenson, probably early-mid 1960s. Image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection.

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Winstone by Bernard Roundhill from  Peter Alsop's book

Original artwork for Willy, Lofty, Tiny and Droop: Roofing Tiles, illustration for Winstone’s promotional book, 1956. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te
Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000659/002/0004

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However clients kept him occupied while he delegated jobs to a staff that swelled to as many as sixteen at times. As well as most of the clients listed of the 1950s, in the 1960s-1970s Roundhill added Peter Pan (ice cream and frozen foods), Air New Zealand, Robinson’s (cordials and baby foods), Jason Products (placemats and coasters) Blue Bonnet (spreads and jams), Wonderset (hair products) Yukich’s Montana Wines, Swiss Maid (dairy), Craig’s canned foods, sauces and jams (Butland Industries) and Qantas amongst his roster during this period. Initially he had started employing others post-war period to help with the more tedious jobs like lettering, but the studio, which also had the rare distinction of being independent from an advertising agency, produced a number of respected designers like John Woodruffe and Graham Braddock. It wasn’t until the mid to late 1980s that Roundhill finally dipped his toe in the digital world of production – converting the studio which previously had run without even a photocopier.

In 1988 Bernard Roundhill was presented with the Gold Axis Award by the New Zealand Advertising Institute, for excellence in advertising communication and craft excellence. At the time it was only one of three that had been bestowed.

Yates Garden Painting Book - New Gold Dream -Bernard Roundhill  - Phillip Matthews - Listener Apr 20-26 2002

The Yates Garden Painting Book for children, issued 1953, replete with evil gnomes to give you nightmares.

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After Olive died in 1984, Roundhill married for a third and final time – to Peggy Lee (not the celebrated crooner). Peggy was a widow who had one son from her former marriage. She also claimed she was a writer and director, as well as a “highly trained” scientology counsellor. Peggy was a few years behind Bernard, having discovered the religion in 1961 through the Dianetics book which was held at Auckland University. It was after his second wife died they found had their faith in common; whether they knew each other earlier on is unknown but highly likely. They soon sold the Ellerslie property and moved to a cottage in Torbay.

Air New Zealand craft with Roundhill's Koru design All rights reserved by dbcnwa flickr edit copy

Air New Zealand craft with the Roundhill Studio’s Koru design. Image courtesy of and © dbcnwa on Flickr .

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His relationship and union happened with Peggy very quickly – who was by all accounts a very charismatic individual with “enough energy to power the national grid.” Controlling and possessive – she essentially closed Bernard off into a spiritual bubble, alienating him from his family. Leigh-Allen says “…I became estranged until two weeks before he died. I was banned from retrieving any of my, or my family’s things, from the house after (Peggy married him). Peggy told a lot of tales and I think Bernard just gave up (fighting it).” One journalist described her style as “cheerful embellishment.” Apparently in her world the truth was highly negotiable if inconvenient – see earlier story about Bernard and the aeroplane, which may have had a vague basis in legitimacy – but was pretty far-fetched by the time she had re-styled it.

So devoted were they that by 1994, the couple moved to Southern California to teach and lecture on the religion. To say that a move to the other side of the world to establish a new life in his early eighties was risk-taking is an understatement – not only was he very elderly but Bernard was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. The couple spent much of their savings trying to find a cure and when the money and will power ran out – they decided to go home.
By the early 2000s they had returned to New Zealand and were living in Mairangi Bay on North Shore, Auckland where Bernard indulged in his favourite pastime; gardening. Towards the end, Peggy undertook the administrative role for Bernard’s art studio, which seems to indicate he continued to work in some capacity – although seemingly he started wind down commissions in the early-mid 1990s when his illness got the better of him. Nevertheless, he had been kept busy work-wise well into his eighth decade.

Yates Seeds_350 Art by Bernards Roundhill EDIT

Yate’s seed packet designs, probably early-mid 1950s. Image from the “New Zealand In Bloom” exhibition, 2005, courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te
Papa Tongarewa.

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Peggy had a scientology website, which was a joint undertaking also showcasing Bernard and his work. It has since gone out of commission – likely it went down because she died in 2006, the year following Bernard – and the hosting has obviously since expired. Bernard had passed away in 2005 at age 94; but before that Peggy had spent three years between 1999 and 2002 sorting his archives in preparation for offering the collection to a museum. The archive collection effectively falls into three categories: original finished art, commercial art products (such as posters and ephemera), and then Bernard’s reference material, including some by his contemporaries. Ultimately the body of work went to Te Papa where it remains today as an example of how he styled some of our most recognisable brands through the seven decades of his remarkable career. In 2005 they showcased some of it in a Richard Wolfe-curated exhibition “New Zealand in Bloom.”

Young woman hitching 1951-1954 Te Papa collection

“Young Woman Hitching a Ride”, 1951-1954. Likely commissioned by L. R. Allen & Co., Ltd. for a calendar. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te
Papa Tongarewa, Reg: A000683/001/0003

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When working in other styles and genres such as the cartoonish and quirky “Surfing Santas” design for wrapping paper of 1950 – Roundhill showed that he was perfectly competent in capturing action adequately (although, on reflection, it seems likely this was designed by an employee). Everyone knows I am a devotee of some of his work like his hyper-real illustrations for Holdson; however his irregularity in a stellar level of illustration across the board tempts me to dub him overrated in comparison to the international greats – for as innovative as he was – butted up against them he tends to regularly fall short in consistence as well as imagination.

INNES - C L INNES & CO LTD  Strawberry Milk Shake & Ice Block Flavouring Syrup  1950S or 1960s Te Papa prob Bernard Roundhill EDIT

An Innes syrup label for C.L. Innes & Co. Ltd., produced mid-late 1950s. Images courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000680/001/0004

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The majority of his work speaks little of New Zealand culturally in that unique manner that defines such things as Kiwiana, and as such cannot claim that differentiation from the international work of others that would really propel it into its own unique genre.
But this is what happens when an attempt is made to reframe commercial work as high art – a concept and distinction that Roundhill always stated he was indifferent to; it is voluntarily judged under the harsh light of a new work lamp.
More than anything his oeuvre’s real value is as a time capsule of product showcasing packaging and advertising that stretches nearly seventy years. Although inspired by Norman Rockwell and his luscious Coca-Cola adverts, amongst other celebrated illustrators – Roundhill never quite reached that level excepting some of his brilliant futuristic scapes and was rightly awarded for them; but as such he ultimately may have just been a big fish in a small retouched pond.

Thanks to: Bridget Simpson, Reference Librarian, Central Auckland Research Centre, Central City Library. Jennifer Twist, Archivist, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Leigh-Ellen Roundhill, Grant Cathro, Peter Michel, Lemuel Lyes of History Geek and Mike Davidson for interviews, images, and assistance with research.

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All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2013. All rights reserved.

Bite Size: Sweet and Fizzy Memories

In Fonzies, Food Processors Limited, Frist, General Foods Corporation (NZ) Ltd, Green Lime soft drink, Happy Days, Kandy soft drink, Laverne and Shirley, Leed soft drink, Lemonz, Life, Old Stoney soft drink, Pasito, Wattie Cannery Ltd, Wattie's on July 20, 2013 at 10.46

CALENDAR 2012 LWK copy sml

Kandy was a drink I remember very well from my childhood, although – I don’t know if we were ever actually allowed it – I think it was probably a bit too trashy so it stayed on the shelves at the dairy. Not to mention that there’s not one thing about it that isn’t man-made. Its pop-style garishness signifies that Australasian obsession I’ve mentioned before – a fascination with all things American and retro in the mid-late 1970s period, probably inspired by the popularity of TV shows like Happy Days, Sha Na Na and Laverne and Shirley (and inspired Rocker stylings in adverts like Bluebird chips, Perky Nana, and Sparkles) at the same time as Kiwis were busy un-tethering their Union Jack apron.

KANDY  Soft Drink Can 1970s-80s copy sml

Unlike Leed, as I’ve recently found out, Kandy was endemic to Aotearoa as far as I am aware. Kandy came in a crown-capped bottle as well , although I don’t remember ever seeing it. I’ve always loved the design which could not be more consummately “Seventies.”

Soft Drink Cans FOOD PROCESSORS Ltd Watties 1980s sml

Three drinks manufactured by Food Processors Ltd: Old Stoney and Kandy are 1970s versions, Green Lime Flavour is a 1980s product.

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It was manufactured by a company named Food Processors Limited, which I think was a sub of Wattie’s under the General Foods Corporation umbrella. Food Processors Ltd also made Old Stoney, a popular canned ginger beer which was around through the Seventies and into the late Eighties, maybe longer, and others like one that was just called Green Lime Flavour. I think that Wattie’s probably acquired Food Processors Ltd in the 1980s as suddenly their logo is emblazoned on some of the later cans.

Soft Drink Cans 1970s-80s NZ KANDY-WATTIES edit sml

A selection of late 1970s-early 1980s drink cans; One of the Wattie’s products under their own brand top left. Image courtesy of and ©  Steve Williams collection.

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Wattie’s of course also did a large number of drinks in the 1970s and 1980s that readers will remember like Pasito, Frist, Lemonz, and Life. Most of these are not too hard to get on auction sites and come up on a fairly regular basis. Under their own brand Wattie’s did canned lemonade, sparkling lemon, orange fruit drink , and lemon fruit drink. Also a range of fruit nectars – peach, pear, apricot, and nectarine. Citrus and tomato juices were of course a mainstay of the product roster through the decades and were produced from the 1950s onwards.

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All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2013. All rights reserved.

The Shelf Life of Reilly

In All Blacks, Aulsebrook's, Aulsebrook's confectionery, Bank's Box Company, C.M.C., cache, Christchurch Meat Company, CMC sheeps tongues, collecting, Convent of Sacré Coeur Catholic boarding school, Disprin, Erskine College Wellington, Farmer's Trading Co., Fresh-Up Mini drink, Garrattco, General Foods Corporation (NZ) Ltd, Grocery Archaeology, Heards confectionery, Henderson Sweets, hoard, ICI, Island Bay, Jaffas, James Smith Limited department stores, James Stedman, Kaiapoi Petunia Group Textiles Ltd, Kaiapoi Woollen Manufacturing Company, L. Reilly, LD Nathan Wholesale Ltd, Leonard Heard, Lifesavers, Lynn Mall, Mackintosh Caley Phoenix, Mackintosh's, Mackintosh's confectionery, Mackintosh's Toffee De Luxe, N.Z. Apple & Pear Marketing Board, New Zealand Railways, New Zealand Refrigerating Company, Newmans coaches, Nugget, NZ Rail, Peter Frederick Hilton Jones, Rabo, Reckitt & Colman (NZ) Ltd, Reckitt and Colman, Reckitt Colman Nugget, Sacred Heart College Island Bay, Sacred Heart College Thorndon, Sun Maid raisins, Sun-Maid Growers of California, Sweetacres, Terylene, Thorndon, Tip-Top, Transport (Nelson) Ltd, Trumpet, Wattie's, Wellington, Woolworth's Food Fair, Woolworth's supermarkets on June 16, 2013 at 10.46

1 Erskine College Stash Wellington - edit

A row of labelled cans retrieved from the hole, mostly 1960s vintage. Raro wasn’t launched until sometime in 1961, and the can looked like this from the beginning.  I have previously recreated this Wattie’s fruit salad label here, which
was definitely in stores in 1964, and Wattie’s cans were selling for 2/3 in that year. Imperial pricing pencilled on both items indicates prior to mid 1967, so  I’d date them (widely) between 1962-1967.

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Recently, a reader of this blog contacted me to ask whether I would help them date a cache of items that were found in an old school building complex. They had been discovered when vandals on the property had removed some of the floorboards in one of the old dormitories, presumably looking for copper pipes to take. Whilst attempting to secure the aperture, before there was some kind of accident, they noticed a couple of things in the recesses of the dim hole. Upon further investigation was a selection of items that had been discarded over the years by a former student, or plural.
Found repositories and the story they tell are one of my favourite things, like this lot, found inside a long forgotten American house cistern.
These types of accumulations are obviously very different from collecting in which the acquirer may be particularly discriminate about categories; or hoarding – where there is complete indiscrimination in regards to a singular, or often multiple genres. A good example of this is children’s scrap books and things that they select to keep and then edit, gluing in items that may appear to be random, but in fact are not at all – it is done with complete deliberation and within that selection of items is data that tells a tale of the time.

2 Erskine College  (Sacred Heart)  by Tom Law  TELPortfolio on Flickr

Erskine College, courtesy of and © Tom Law, TELPortfolio on Flickr.

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Discards on the other hand while equally as fascinating, have many different factors come into play that affect the agglomeration. Foremost, apart from the initial partiality involved in acquisition, what survives from that juncture is completely random – as opposed to any further intention being involved. There’s a lot of chance with what endures the circumstances and the environment – so many aspects become involved from thereon of what you will end up with. But essentially even though the items found may be just a fragment of a bigger picture, it can give you an awful lot of information about the lives of the people who discarded the items – you could write an entire thesis analysing the selection of items and the narrative it supplies.

3 Erskine College  (Sacred Heart) Adrian Pratt Life In The Land of the Long White Cloud blog

Erskine College, courtesy of and © Adrian Pratt, Life In The Land of the Long White Cloud blog.

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Wellington’s Erskine College, at the corner of Avon Street and Melbourne Road, Island Bay, Wellington was formerly known as Sacred Heart College, or in long form – the Convent of Sacré Coeur Catholic boarding school for women – until well into the 1960s when the name was changed to avoid confusion with Sacred Heart College in Thorndon. It is a collection of Category I historic buildings – as bestowed by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust – including former dormitories, and the Chapel of the Sacred Heart (considered one of the country’s best examples of Gothic architecture). Built during 1905-1906 by the Society of the Sacred Heart (Sacré Coeur), and designed by John Swan, it was not only convent and school but surrounded by a farm, gardens and a grotto.
Some of Peter Jackson’s film, The Frighteners (1996) was filmed at Erskine, especially the flashbacks, the exterior mansion shots and the chapel scenes. The flashbacks occurred on the third and fourth floors in the hallway outside the room where these items were rescued from. It also seems during the Nineties and Noughties that some of the buildings were used for art studios as well as exhibitions (Learning Connexion art school). It has also been, in the past, a very popular venue for weddings and other functions.

4 Erskine College  (Sacred Heart) Sacred Heart Convent School, Island Bay, ca 1900 Reference Number 11-002748-G Turnbull manuscript and pictorial

Sacred Heart Convent School, Island Bay, circa 1900. Courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull manuscript and pictorial collection, ref 1/1-002748-G.

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Not only is it considered a sort of teenage rite of passage to visit the abandoned buildings, but stories also abound in regards to the property being haunted which only encourages break-ins and vandalism. The current residents who say that since they have moved in to one of the accommodation wings on Erskine‘s grounds – there have been “no signs of ghosts yet” do attest to having to be vigilant and have kicked live trespassers out several times in the past. Those thinking about “exploring” inside should take into consideration that not only are some of the buildings dangerous given they are abandoned and deteriorating rapidly, but also closed off because they are earthquake prone. Options are the owners doing very costly stabilising work, or alternately demolition, discussed in an article here.

It’s a shame about all the politics surrounding the property. Quite frankly it sounds like the owner that bought it a decade ago or more, typical of developers, knew what he was in for but went in with plans to eventually try to overturn the heritage protection in any way he could, just letting it run down, tying everyone up with red tape, and then blaming everyone else for exactly the same thing. The on-going battle of wills is discussed in article here.

I predict eventually he will probably get a healthy leg up from local government for restoration as well as permission to remove all the non-heritage listed structures and build it in with apartments. I am sure he has plans to make his money out of it. In the meantime all the agitation in the community will probably only serve him to achieving his end goal I imagine. It’s one of those situations where, as they say – damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

5 Erskine College and grounds in Island Bay Wellington courtesy Wekllington Scoop with Lindsay Shelton copy

Erskine College and grounds, © Lindsay Shelton and courtesy of Wellington Scoop.

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However, contrary to posting around the web saying there’s no electricity on the premises and nothing to restrict would-be adventurers, it is par-residential, there is a security system which is in place and working, as well as odd patrols after a break-in incident in which “youths tore up yards of flooring” according to someone who reported the incident on the College’s Facebook page. That’s obviously how the assemblage I feature here came to be inadvertently revealed – found in the main college building, one of two “red-stickered” areas on the property.

Erskine College  (Sacred Heart)    Wellington by Queenstitch blog edit replace Spiro Harvey pic copy sml

Erskine College in 2013, courtesy of and © Louise Sutherland at The Queen Stitch blog

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It is unknown whether all of the items were placed there deliberately (given that the floor board seems to have been easily removable, this is very likely), or some of the smaller bits and pieces just fell through the cracks into a cavity between the fourth floor and the third floor ceiling. It may be a bit of both. There may have been just one occupant to the room for a length of time who made a habit of doing that (unlikely that anyone else knew about the loose floorboard). Some immediate things that struck me – mostly the items were sweet things, such as snacks. Perhaps contraband, and disposed of where it would not be found. The schools may have been strict about eating anything in dorms – as well as junk food and non-school foods found in rooms. Along with the Disprins, You get the idea that these items may have been cravings that accompanied “that time of the month” perhaps. Sheep’s tongues may now seem a strange thing to have druthers for on the sly but no accounting for taste (not often seen on the lunch or tea table these days, they were extremely common in decades past; still popular even when I was a child). This tells me the person was missing domestic life and home cooking probably, and this was a little bit of “comfort”, or perhaps they were part of a care package from home. Of course a big question is – why they would put all those things under there when it was easier to put it in a bin? It does point to not wanting anyone to know about it, or for it to be found. It could be just as simple as laziness, or good old (Catholic) guilt. Or both.
It’s fun for me to try and narrow the cache down without any idea of dates or significant clues, but of course the biggest lead is a potential name . The serial litterer seems to be a fourth form boarder named L. Reilly. If we could track the person in question down, there may be some more information on the details of their life at Erskine and the motivation behind dropping this stuff into a gap under the floor. On the other hand, she may not like the idea that some things have been dredged up unexpectedly such as an English test she likely cheated on (otherwise why not just put it in the bin instead of stuffing it in a can and hiding it), or the nicked spoon that accompanied the empty tins, (which bears the college’s initials SH for Sacred Heart). Personally, I know I would feel a bit weird about people going through my old trash.

However, there’s a possibility that our culprit is included in one of the Sacré Coeur reunion photos in this archive here,  Which feature classes from 1930s onwards.

7 Erskine College Island Bay Wellington 1937 - 1938  Reference Number  12-046458-G Turnbull manuscript and pictorial

Erskine College, circa 1937-1938. Courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull manuscript and pictorial collection, ref 1/2-046458-G.

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All of the items were well-documented in detail which means quite a number of images. Ergo with the author’s permission I’ve selected and edited the most interesting and curious things for this article – either they have a good story behind them or they are the sort of thing that rarely survives the dustbin or dumpster so that in its self makes them worthy of being featured (how many used ice cream wrappers survive for example? Very few that I have seen).
The salvager is intending to use a section of the floorboard in question that had been pried up as the base for a small cabinet to protect and display the items as a fascinating microcosm of student life in days gone by.

8 Erskine College hole with can and spoon raisin packet

A shot of the hole with some of the items beginning to be retrieved – a can, a spoon and a Sun Maid raisin packet.

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So, what’s my prognosis as far as a time period on this haul? Initially I had dated it between 1965-1968.
Now I’ve gotten a good look at the Sun Maid packet below, this definitely dates between 1969-1976 – but probability is on 1971-1972. Since the Disprin bottle indicates things are as old as 1961, It’s looking likely there were multiple discarders over a successive period of up to ten years, but most of it was just one person with perhaps later items like the raisins and the NZ Rail ticket just slipping through gaps in the boards by chance. If I re-narrowed the dates to the least possible, it would still be 1967-1972.

Oh, and – L. Reilly…where are art thou, you naughty minx? No worry about getting detention now – so come out, wherever you are.

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Credits: all photos © Kylie Walker unless otherwise specified.

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9 Erskine College S H (Sacred Heart) spoon found in hole

Study of the spoon found with cans, S H (Sacred Heart) indicates it dates from before 1960 when the name of the institution changed to Erskine.

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10  Erskine College Stash Wellington - Form IV April literature test - hole copy edit  copy

On the left a page from a fourth form literature test. We suspect it may have been pinched in order to cheat, otherwise it would have been thrown in a regular bin and not hidden. The test questions, a Newman’s Coach ticket and the picture of P.F. Jones were all tucked away in a tin with removable lid. On the right, another shot of the hole in the floor.

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11 L Reilly Garment Tags copy

James Smith was a Wellington institution established in 1866 and ran until 1993 when Farmers’ purchased it from L.D. Nathan and shut it down. The five-story flagship department store was on the corner of Cuba and Manners Street. By the 1980s they had five branches around the Wellington area. By at least 1972 they were definitely known to have a devoted girls school uniform department so I would say that this dates from before that decade. I was unable to find any information on Garrattco or Rabo, indicating it was likely a company established post 1945 – the 1950s onwards. I think this came from a new uniform garment that was ordered and then fitted  in-store, and was brought with the person at the beginning of a term. Hence no price on the tag,and the measurements, as well as customer’s name scribbled on. I’m guessing early 1960s.

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12 Erskine College Stash Wellington -    L Reilly (dorm room) 35

Possibly a card with the dorm room number, as well as the name of the occupant. We do know that Reilly was in situ in the late 1950s-early 1960s, and likely around the age of 13-14 years old. ergo, born in the early 1950s.

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13 Erskine College Stash Wellington -  sweetacres jaffas box

This Jaffa Box is likely from the early-mid 1960s. I think they were running this design for a while so it could have been around up to the late 60s. Imperial weight only shows  it was definitely produced before 1972 . It was exactly the same in Australia. One clue here is the printer’s mark B.B. which likely stands for Bank’s Box (Company), who were around from at least the 1920s-1930s. They had factories in Auckland, and Wellington.

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14 Erskine College Stash Wellington - Wattie's sliced peaches early-mid 1960s cans and labels

This was in stores early-mid 1960s. Imperial indicates pre 1967. Wattie’s tended not to change some labels very often and would frequently run designs for over ten years or more. I have one almost identical except they have revised the picture of the peaches in the blue bowl, here.

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16 Erskine College Stash Wellington -  New Zealand Refrigerating Company sheep tongues CMC tin  copy

New Zealand Refrigerating Company ( also known as CMC or Christchurch Meat Company), was one of those products where they never really changed the label for decades. It pretty much looked the same from its inception back in the 1900s. As I recall CMC shut down around 1984. Given the cache are together, they probably date from the 1950s-1960s.

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17 Erskine College Stash Wellington -  PF Jones picture copy

Peter Frederick Hilton Jones played for the All Blacks in 37 matches including against the Springboks in Johannesburg in 1960 and notably scored a try in the 4th test of the 1956 South Africa tour of New Zealand. I wondered what significance the picture torn from a sporting article in a magazine has? It seems such a random choice that it’s in likelihood not random at all. There’s a few options: schoolgirl crush perhaps, or it had some kind of personal significance, or was used for some kind of drawing project. There are considerations in why someone would remove a picture to keep it, and then crumple it up throw it away stuffed in a tin where nobody would find it. Along with the test paper and the picture of P.F. Jones, the discarder obviously did not want anyone to find the items in a communal bin. I wonder if the sisters used to go through the rubbish looking for anything incriminating? I imagine it was very strict and even if not breaking a rule, it would be embarrassing to be questioned.

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18 Erskine College Stash Wellington - Musk Lifesavers  wrrapper likely 1960s

Lifesavers were actually around in New Zealand from the early 1920s. Again this was one of those products where they never really changed the label much except for minor adjustments. In later years  Parnell-based Heards confectionery, established 1914 by Leonard Heard, had the domestic license for this brand. It could date from any time between mid 1950s-mid 1970s probably, but I would guess the mid 1960s.

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19 Erskine College Stash Wellington - Kaiapoi School Wear hangtag edit

Kaiapoi Woollen Manufacturing Company was the first woollen manufacturer in Canterbury, established in 1878 , and closed in 1978 – so this item definitely dates before that time. In 1963, the company became Kaiapoi Petunia Group Textiles Ltd but there’s no indication of the company name here to help narrow things down. Again I’d guess 1960s for this school garment label.

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20 Erskine College Stash Wellington - Tip-Top Trumpet wrapper post 1964

Tip-Top Trumpet wrapper. These were launched in 1964, so this item is after that date.

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21 Giant Trumpet on a roundabout in Panmure, year unknown - ppost early 1964 although late 1950s models visible

Giant Trumpet on a roundabout in Panmure, Auckland, year unknown. Obviously post-early 1964 although late 1950s car models are visible. The design is the same as the wrapper above. Provenance of photo unknown, probably from the Fonterra Archives.

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22 Erskine College Stash Wellington - Tip-Top Trumpet wrapper post 1964 edit copy

Close-ups of the Tip-Top Trumpet wrapper. It is kind of amazing this has even survived. Given they were almost without exception tossed in the bin – or if kept easily damaged or deteriorated from contact with food, any frozen confection wrappers are extremely rare.

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23 Erskine College Stash Wellington - Aulsebrook's Chocolate Eclairs likely 1960s

I’ve never heard of this product but I would guess 1950s-1960s, more the latter. Aulsebrook’s commenced to manufacture confectionery sometime in the 1890s and were probably the biggest brand in New Zealand next to Cadbury Hudson. Wrapped candies in bags or packets seem to have popularised from the late 1950s-early 1960s. Singular indicates that it may have just slipped through the floorboards but unlikely. It is likely they were part of a Woolies pick ‘n’ mix, purchased in the bags below. There may have been other different wrappers but they have either disintegrated, been eaten by insects, or carried away by rodents to a nest.

Update early 2015: One of my readers has now claimed they remember these being made in the 1970s.

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24 Erskine College Stash Wellington - Woolworths cellophane bags likely for pick and mix candy  copy

So, these are the bags for some of the random lolly wrappers like Aulsebrook’s above. I’m theorising that because the bag is printed with “fresh” indicates it was made specifically for marketing food, the striped peppermint canes of the font pretty clearly indicates candy. Woolies didn’t really start having separate food markets until late 1963 onwards. this logo was definitely in use at that time. Before that Food Fair was always a department. I would take a stab at mid-late1960s for these items.

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25 Woolworths Variety Store  Lynnmall New Lynn night before official opening 1963 Confectionery section with Refreshment Bar near front of store

Woolworths Variety Store, Lynnmall , late 1963. This photo shows the confectionery section with Refreshment Bar near front of store. Woolies would have open glass pick and mix bins, you can see them to the left. I remember as a very young child going to (this particular) store and occasionally being allowed to get a selection. Photo courtesy of and © Lance Bates, Degilbo on Flickr.

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26 Erskine College Stash Wellington - Macintosh's Barley Sugar wrapper likely 1960s 2

I’m not familiar with this particular product, but obviously I remember the Mackintosh’s brand very well – particularly their bagged Toffee De Luxe which was extremely popular in the 1970s-1980s. I would guess 1950s-1960s for this, more the latter. These kind of snap-apart bars were popular in the late 1950s-early 1960s from ads I have seen.

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27 Erskine College Stash  mackintosh barley sugar bar inner and outer wrappers copy

Inner and outer wrappers of above , showing the embossing on the foil. You never get to see things like this outside of a scrapbook, and even then people tended not to keep foil – it was usually easily damaged in the unwrapping and not that interesting anyway in comparison to the outer.

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28 Erskine College Fresh-Up Mini  copy

Mini Drink, which was pretty much Fresh-Up in a different can –  was apparently launched by the N.Z. Apple & Pear Marketing Board in 1967, according to company literature (I don’t know if I believe this date entirely). If I had guessed without knowing anything about a date I would have guessed 1966-1970.

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29 Erskine College Stash Wellington - Sweetacres Minties and paper bag New Zealand likely 1960s 1

A dozen or so Sweetacres Minties wrappers were stuffed in a grease-proof paper bag. I do wonder why it was not in a proper Minties bag or container. I guess they were bought locally from a dairy or corner grocery and were from a bulk counter tin. Minties were present in NZ from the 1930s; Sweetacres was an Australian Brand made by Henderson Sweets/James Stedman. This was one of those products where they never really changed the label (and still haven’t much). I’m a little confused about the history of Sweetacres in Aotearoa but I believe that Griffin’s had the rights for the brand until 1984 when Pascall purchased it. So it’s one of those things that you can’t really narrow down unfortunately. I would guess 1960s.

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30 Erskine College Stash Wellington - NZ Railways ticket folder and stub and Newmans coach ticket copy

Newmans has run coaches since the 1870s but it was in the mid-late 1920s that a fleet of motor vehicles was established. It remained a family-owned business through to 1972 when it merged with Transport (Nelson) Ltd, so it’s likely this ticket on the right dates before that time. As for the New Zealand Railways cover and stub on the left – I get a late 1970s-early 1980s vibe from these graphics, giving credence to possible multiple discarders. It could not  be any later than the end of 1985 as the school shut at that time. This was the kind of ticket that was for long train journeys cross-country so obviously was from a pupil that travelled quite some distance to board at Erskine.

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31  Erskine College  (Sacred Heart) STerylene Tag copy

This label from a garment indicates it was printed in Britain and I can’t see any reason that would be done unless the whole garment was made there and imported. ICI didn’t start commercial manufacture of Terylene in England until after 1955. I am sure this fabric revolution made its way down under pretty quickly, but it still would have taken some time. I am guessing early 1960s for this item.

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32 Erskine College Stash Wellington - Sunmaid Raisin box imperial to metric changeover 1969-1976

Sun Maid raisins, imported from the Sun-Maid Growers of California in the U.S., were present in New Zealand from the 1920s and the imagery and packaging barely changed well into the 1980s. It’s probably still the same now. It would be really hard to date this item if it wasn’t for the presence of dual systems indicating the weight. Metric began to be introduced in 1969, and the bulk of the changeover was undertaken over 1971-1972. However up until as late as 1976 both were included on some products for those that were pretty slow on the uptake. However what should be taken into consideration is when both metric/imperial was included in duality on American packaging for export, even though they never switched over themselves. As far as I am aware an Act to include both on domestic products was only introduced federally in 1992. However this practice for exported goods may have commenced earlier than New Zealand introduced the metric system, to cover a multitude of different countries and accommodate their various systems.

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33 Erskine College Stash Wellington -  Disprin bottle  copy

Reckitt & Colman (NZ) Ltd changed to Reckitt, Colman, Nugget in the very early 1960s – definitely by May 1961 – so this bottle likely dates before this – perhaps stretching out the date of the stash taking into consideration that it may have been old stock, or were sitting around for a couple of years until finished and discarded. There’s a possibility that the company just didn’t bother updating the company name or had piles of packaging stock to use up that lasted some time. I’d like to think that we have a single discarder, but this indicates not – and that other boarders knew about the hidey-hole.

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All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2013. All rights reserved.

A Sugar-Sprinkled Universe

In Canned Goods, Desserts, Frozen Foods, General Foods Corporation (NZ) Ltd, Ice Cream, Jellies, Jelly Crystals, Pudding, Sunshine, Sunshine Chiffon Whip, Sunshine Jelly, Tip-Top, Tucker, W.F. Tucker & Co, Wattie Cannery Ltd, Wattie's on June 5, 2013 at 10.46

Spacetaste 100 dpi 30 x 21 cm sml

Here is a recreation of a cardboard point-of-sale poster that was sold on Trade Me a few years back, and I have redrawn it from a photograph that accompanied the auction at that time. I suppose it was intended to give housewives dessert ideas – hopefully prompted by kids pulled in by the space theme; a popular mode of advertising that more or less took over from aviation to up-sell everything from jelly to drinks to cereals, in the second half of the 20th century. I started this a couple of years back and it was when I was just changing over to using vector-based graphics so it’s a bit raggedy compared to my usual standard.
I’m taking a guess that this poster dates from around the mid 1970s, given what I know of the brands, products and logos – but mostly indicated by the font styles. Here we have three of New Zealand’s most enormous brands of the time – together in one advertisement, bouncing off each other in a friendly joust.

Sunshine Chiffon Whip (1963) W F Tucker edit copy sml

Advert for Chiffon Whip, 1963. The product was two years old at this point, and lasted well into the 1970s.

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I’ve previously written briefly on the Sunshine brand here, and recreated jelly crystal boxes here, and here.

It was an Auckland-based company owned by W.F. Tucker – and in particular baby boomers will remember Sunshine well for their custard powder, jelly crystals and peanut butter which were very popular through the 1940s to the 1970s – although the company were around a lot longer than that and started using the Sunshine name as far back as the 1910s. The company did a variety of instant desserts and Chiffon Whip was launched in 1961 in flavours lemon, orange, raspberry, and eventually marshmallow.

Watties Sliced Peaches 1 lb Label recreation copy

This Watties design was on the shelves in the early-mid 1960s.

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What else is there to say about Wattie’s? I know I’ve done more than several posts, such as fruit-related ones here, here, and here…and I keep saying I am going to get around to some kind of feature on what is probably Aotearoa’s biggest brand of all time. But lately I’ve been thinking …do I really need to? Books have been written and I’m not sure I have anything to add. It would depend on any new information I can scrape up. And quite frankly, looking at the archives there just may not be a lot of that – given that Wattie’s seemed to feel no need to advertise their wares or have any of their business reported on, until well after WWII, when part and full page ads for the product start to appear (I suspect their major contracts with the government suddenly ending had some bearing on this change). Apparently until that point they were so successful so quickly there was no reason to do so. Anyway, it’s a daunting task to consider writing a full article on this topic, and I guess if somebody really wants to know all about it – they could buy Geoff Conley’s book (1984) which is not that hard to find to this day.

watties can fruit -tip top ice cream - sunshine jelly sml

The original picture I redrew the poster from.

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I have had a story half -prepped on Tip-Top for ages but again it’s a tall mountain to climb. However I feel there’s a lot of things that need to be set straight and expanded on. The most detailed article I have seen on the brand was a fairly brief and pretty stock standard issue from the PR department on the 75th anniversary of the brand, for one of those weekend-type magazines like Canvas – and I think quite inadequate given the iconic status of the product – and the archive of material they have at their disposal.

TIP TOP Classic  60's sign Double sided  Measures 460mm x 600mm EDIT copy

Tip-Top tin signage manufactured for dairies of the 1960s.

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That’s all from me for this week. Come July it will be difficult to focus on this blog as I’ll be back to studying however you can expect briefer, probably picture-based stories and maybe some longer ones if I have time to finish up on them – the James Smith Ltd department store, Aulsebrook’s, commercial artists Alison Fyfe and Bernard Roundhill, and a couple of amazing caches of retro advertising and packaging stuff that have recently been found around the country.

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All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2013. All rights reserved.

When It Finally Dawns: Sunrise Cordial and The Galliens

In Alandale Manufacturing, chemist, Chin Nan Loh, cordial, Dominion Drug Co., Exmol embrocation, Frimley Foods, Frimley Fruit Canning Works, Gallien's Pharmacy, H.L. Gallien, Harry M. Bennett pharmacist, Henry Louis Gallien, Hocken Library and Archives, Hope and Sons Funeral Directors, James Nelson Williams, Kirkpatrick, Louis (Henry Louis II) Gallien, pharmacist, Solvo Cure, Stanmore brand, Stanmore Lungworm and Scour Specific, Sunrise cordials, The Royal Society of New Zealand, W. Kinder chemist, Wattie Cannery Ltd, Wattie's on November 5, 2012 at 10.46

Lithographed label for H.L. Gallien’s cordial, early-mid 1920s.

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The story begins with me buying two gorgeous lithographed labels at auction; the brand Sunrise cordial – which I had never heard of before. The archives and engines were turning up nothing and continue to do so; the only clue I had to start with was that they were manufactured by a particular Dunedin chemist.

H.L. Gallien (HLG II, known as Louis) at the doorway of  19 Main Street, North East Valley store, early-mid 1910sCourtesy of The Otago Settler’s Museum collection. 

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As I started to research one of the first things I came across was a recent newspaper article from the Otago Times about a man named Chin Nan Loh who had bought an ancient chemist shop in North Dunedin. The story was about how he had rescued a cracked and dusty stained glass window with elaborate faceted panes, and re-installed it in his new Unichem shop across the road in Gardens Mall – along with a photograph of the former long-term owner, apparently a “Louis Gallien” – to add “a bit more character, give a community feeling” as he put it.

From left: W Kinder & Co Dispensary, Thames St, Oamaru. W Kinder, Chemist & Druggist, North East Valley Dunedin (1902-1913), courtesy of ABCR Auctions. Tamar Indien Grillon cure, Paris – Gallien Chemist, Dunedin (after 1913), courtesy of ABCR Auctions. W Kinder, Chemist & Druggist, North east Valley Dunedin (1902-1913, Eucalyptus & Menthol Pastilles,courtesy of ABCR Auctions. Gallien Chemist bottle (1903-1904),  Hawkes Bay Bottle collectors magazine of December 1982, author unknown, courtesy of  Jill and Alan Griffith.

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Even though the name wasn’t quite right – this had to be my man; I was sure I could work out the connection. Undertaking some cursory groundwork, I understood that the manufacturer of the cordials , H.L. Gallien, and his descendants had been in situ in North Rd, North East Valley, Dunedin for decades (and the business its self for over 100 years), primarily as a pharmacy, and that he had created and marketed several other brands – as well as being responsible for the Sunrise label. But nothing seemed to be making any sense; I had variations of names and dates and places that zig-zagged all over the country with no clear trajectory or sequence (with another year’s work under my belt I’ve found that this isn’t so unusual), but somehow I knew they were linked. And there I left it for some months.

Lithographed label for H.L. Gallien’s cordial, early-mid 1920s.

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It wasn’t until much later while researching a completely different topic – jam canneries again – that I came back to the fairly perfunctory story I have posted on previously about the Frimley brand

https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/saucing-material/

and how it was absorbed by Wattie’s. Imagine my surprise when I read the builder of Frimley’s canneries, which I somehow missed the first time round, was named… H.L. Gallien. It’s not possible that it was the same person… or could it be? What were the chances that a company that made fruit cordial as one of their products was involved with a person with exactly the same name who also made fruit cordial – could it have any relation? Although New Zealand is a tiny country in size, as well as terms of population (especially then) –  I had one story taking place in Hastings in the mid east coast of the North Island; and the other story taking place almost at the other end of the country right down the bottom of the South Island, at the same time. I’ve run across some pretty strange coincidences before so I wasn’t ruling out that this was another one.

Spooky: Bertha’s forgery escapade is already recounted here. Louis (Henry Louis Gallien II) was later done for distributing excess Opium through his pharmacy. Charles Louis (here as Charlie) ended up involved in a quack scam (“Hermann The Healer”) that went to court. Out of 13 children, the only  three that had notoriety for their legal troubles, are in this photo together. Courtesy of Delwyn Lone collection.

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The thing that I really got stuck on was that I kept finding references to a mysterious Louis or Lewis Gallien – one in Wellington in the 1860s on a committee indicating that he was already mature. Another in 1880s at a school in Hastings indicating youth, another article from the 1890s stating that he was from Auckland and had bought a business interest there. See what I mean about confusing?

Bert (Albert) Gallien, Louis Gallien’s son, at the doorway of  19 Main Street, North East Valley store, early-mid 1920s. The address had changed to 21 North Road by 1918 meaning this photo was taken after that – since the new number is on the building. This is probably either Louis’s daughter Bessie or Margaret. She’s even tinier than her brother! Courtesy of The Otago Settler’s Museum collection. 

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As it turns out there was officially no Louis, and he had never lived in Auckland. And sometimes the media misquoted the name as “Lewis”, confusing the information with a Lewis Gallien who arrived in Wellington in 1864 who had nothing to do with this story. It wasn’t until it had driven me nuts over a series of weeks that I finally realized what was going on – there were three different Henry Louis Galliens with separate careers – father, son and grandson, and that both father and son sometimes referred to themselves as “H. Louis” or often just “Louis”. Once I clicked it all seemed so obvious! Imagine if you will, just how damn difficult it was to unravel this story, where three generations all had the same name.

Close-up of Bert (Albert) Gallien at the doorway of  the 21 North Road (formerly 19 Main Street), North East Valley store, early-mid 1920s. Note the leadlight window now in situ, and poster in the window for Gallien’s Sarsaparilla Blood Mixture. Courtesy of The Otago Settler’s Museum collection. 

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Henry Louis Gallien , most senior (whom I will refer to as Henry from here on) was born in Magdeburg Germany in 1835, and he arrived from London aboard the Wild Duck to the Wellington port in January 1860. By 1863 he had moved to Nelson, founded a business and by April the premises were being offered for rent. By 1864 he was back in Wellington, where he had married his bride Catherine Pauline Brown. They purchased a home in Thorndon Quay and went on to have an incredible 15 children, 13 of which survived which is a pretty good strike rate for those times to say the least. Can you imagine having to bring up so many? That was huge, even for those days – I was amazed as I kept finding record after record. It must have been a real struggle just to put food on the table. I’m not sure exactly what Henry did for a living when he arrived but he was listed as a “Carpenter & Joiner” by the time he was naturalised in Wellington in 1865, and again in 1866 he is registered as having a cabinet-making enterprise in Lambton Quay. However it seems he had ambitions and made some important contacts and as a result- contracts.

Box packaging for Gallien’s Emulsion bottle. Likely dates between 1905-1912. Courtesy of the Hocken Library Collection ref MS-2961/002.

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An interesting diversion here (but diversion nevertheless), is that their second child Bertha Annie Gallien (b.1867), was charged with forgery in 1886, aged just nineteen. In quite unusual circumstances that were deemed newsworthy at the time – she was placed as a serving girl with a family acquaintance rather than going to prison, possibly the fact that her father was an established and respected member of the community may have had some bearing on this for there wasn’t much other reason except that perhaps the judge was in a particularly favourable and lenient mood. Financial records of the legislative department from 1871-1872 show that they had an account with Henry, so one wonders if “friends in high places” had any bearing on the unusual outcome of the case. If he didn’t already have acquaintances to get the job then surely he had made some by the end of it – clearly he was what you would be described as “connected”.

Dose glass issued by Gallien, between 1896-1912,  from the chemist’s measure collection of and © Jill and Alan Griffith.

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Henry Louis Gallien II was the fourth child in 1870, and the focus of this story (I’ll refer to him as Louis). Birth and death records tell us that the family lived in the heavily populated Thorndon Quay area of Wellington for some years and sold the property in 1872. At this point our stories more or less separate out.

Louis’s disastrous move to be closer to Hastings lasted less than twelve weeks between December 1904 and February 1905.

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In 1892 a J.E. Gallien of Marton near Fielding is mentioned as passing a botanical pharmacy degree. A cousin perhaps, or just an all-so-common-for-the-times misquote of initials? I am going for the latter, and I suspect that he may have resided for a time with the family of a sibling such as his older and first born brother Charles Louis (b. 1865). Who can say where his interest in the medical, chemical, zoological and botanical realms stemmed from? What we do know is that both Henry and Louis had in their lifetime involvement with the Royal Society of New Zealand

http://rsnz.natlib.govt.nz/about.html

Louis is quoted as both a canary collector and breeder of note, as well as hobby taxidermist: “Mr. Gallien, when preparing a Cuckoo for stuffing, found in its crop a complete young Sparrow, barely feathered…” 

Syrup recipes for Sunrise cordials and other products: Ginger, Sarsoe (Sarsaparilla), Peppermint and Clove. Courtesy of the Hocken Library Collection ref MS-2961/002.

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In 1893 Louis passed his pharmacy examination in Auckland. A social page in a paper of the time notes him as formerly of Auckland, so he may have been temporarily residing there to finish his studies for the final exam. Wasting no time at all upon graduating, later that year he turned up with a pharmacy open in Manchester Street, Fielding (near Palmerston North) that he had bought from a T. A. Garrat, also formerly of Auckland. (Garratt also had two pharmacies in Wellington previously). It seems by 1894 he had sold up and moved on.

Raspberry syrup recipe for Sunrise cordial.Courtesy of the Hocken Library Collection ref MS-2961/002.

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by 1896 Louis married into the Hill family of Winton, a notable distance from any of his previous locations to say the least – and had purchased another pharmacy from C.F.A . Whiteford in Winton. An article states Louis had already been manager of the business for some time. Likely he commenced this position in 1894 before quickly graduating to owner. He sold it on to William Dawson Cowie between 1902 and 1904. I am not sure what the explanation is for why he ended up north of Invercargill – so far away from his family. Nevertheless he settled in the Otago area for good producing four children with his wife Elizabeth Josephine (1871-1960). Later I noticed that the 1892 article about the pharmaceutical examination results that misquoted his initials as J.E., also mentions a fellow student in his class as “C.T.A . Whiteford”. Given the already-established level of inaccuracy in the article, I would say this is the connection – Whiteford was an educational acquaintance so his move to that area was purely a friendship connection turned business proposition. Following the sale of his first Winton business, he either purchased another established business – or from scratch started another pharmacy, in 1904 Louis’s premises are mentioned in Winton as being two buildings away from Railway Hotel.

Close-up of Gallien’s Solvo wall advertising at the corner of Carlyle and 21 North Road, North East Valley, early-mid 1920s. Courtesy of The Otago Settler’s Museum collection.

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Of course, by now it’s clear Louis was an extremely shrewd operator with repeated business modus operandi of making an easy entree into pre-existing operations by purchasing them as well as likely the previous owner’s inventions and recipes. Point in case , is a ginger cordial label by T. Walker, chemist –  recorded in a book belonging to Louis of the 1910s-1920s. Why else would it have been retained? Clearly it was one of the various purchased businesses in Winton between 1902-1904, 0r 1905-1912.

The true definition of puff piece: on Louis, 1928. In all reality, would you expect higher quality journalism from The Truth?

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In 1913 Louis bought yet another pharmacy and moved to Dunedin city. There is a possibility that he acquired  a pharmacy in Great King Street, Dunedin for a short period between 1912-13, possibly Bagley’s at 323 Great King Street, but I’ve yet to see any evidence of this. Mr. W. Kinder, chemist and druggist, was established at 19 Main Street, North East Valley in 1902 – and this became the Gallien’s Pharmacy of our story. Records refer to a “manufacturing department associated with the business”. This means that, again, probably a number of the products and recipes were created by Kinder (who headed to Oamaru and opened a pharmacy there). I am not saying that Louis wasn’t inventive himself – by the mid 1930s he had quite a line of products as follows: Solvo Cure, White Korn Kill, Stanmore Lungworm and Scour Specific, Gallien’s Emulsion, raspberry vinegar, Ginger Wine Essence, raspberry flavouring, Gallien’s Sarsaparilla Blood Mixture, Defeata eyewash, St. Thomas bay rum, Universal embrocation, Gallien & Co liquorice powders, Newtine’s Lozenges, Dr. Claude’s tonic, and Exmol embrocation.

A coupon for Gallien’s Solvo  – NZ Truth, July 1925.

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Sunrise cordials were being made by the mid 1920s at latest since a revision note dated 1925 was neatly pinned between the leaves of one of the recipe books which were finally dug up in the Hocken Library. This was the motherload and I nearly fell off my chair when these actual handwritten formulas for the cordials turned up. These entailed specifics for the two labels I had – Raspberry Syrup, and the Liquid Fruits (Mixed Fruit Syrup – Raspberry, Ginger, Pear, Pineapple, orange). There were also jottings on how to create Lemon, Vanilla, Creaming Soda, Pineapple, Orange, Orange Squash, Strawberry, Black Currant, Red Currant, Ginger, Sarsoe (sarsaparilla), Peppermint, and Clove syrups. I believe that manufacture started a little earlier than this; the Egyptian motif of the Raspberry label indicates that it was probably just post the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922 when that imagery trended worldwide. It seems like Louis’s oldest son Albert Louis William Gallien (b. 1898) may have been the second generation “marketing whizz ” since Gallien’s did not start heavily advertising their own brands until around this time in the mid 1920s. Henry Louis Gallien III (b. 1907, I’ll refer to him as Harry) was a number of years younger than Albert (referred to as Bert) but also followed in a pharmaceutical degree. Sister Bessie Gallien (Elizabeth Mary Gallien 1905-1973),went on to manage Otago’s Sonata Laboratories Limited which marketed products from Scherring Drug Co and Plough N.Z, like Nova, Coppertone, and Wella. Sibling Margaret Gallien was the only exception to the rule and went on to become a nun, spending 67 years as Sister Margaret Raphael of the Sisters of Mercy, St. Mary’s Convent, Auckland.

The Frimley Foods Canning Factory, circa 1910, built by Henry Louis Gallien I.

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Janice Sew Hoy, who was employed at Gallien’s from the early 1980s through to 2001: “There was also a recipe for Embalming Fluid which was made up for Hope and Sons Funeral Directors. This was made up in bulk when ordered. Eventually Hope and Sons must have changed to a commercially made product”. Josie Bray, who was at Gallien’s between the late seventies and the early Noughties remembers: “The embalming fluid was made up in twenty litre containers, I think we stopped doing that around 1994. White Korn Kill was the best stuff on the market – I still work in pharmacy and there is nothing as good made today. That, Solvo and Exmol were very popular right to the end – until the some of the ingredients were too hard to come by. There were some interesting old bits and pieces. Even some huge glass distilling containers that sat round upstairs for years. Gallien (Louis) also used to pull teeth out as he had a dentist chair out the back of the pharmacy. Some people said he was a nice man, others said he was not… I have heard many stories over the years”. Pam Kennedy, a former owner of Gallien’s Pharmacy, says: “Well, I imagine that opinion may have depended on whether you were getting a tooth pulled or not!”

Map shows Gallien Street, Hastings marked with the red balloon. The site of the family home can be seen by the pattern layout of the marked lots. Also shown is Frimley Park, the site of owner Nelson William’s homestead as well as the factory, and the green area top left is Kirkpatrick Park, bounded by Orchard and Canning Roads, This was once dozens of acres of peaches for production. 

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I have to admit, that’s a very good point. Pam continues: “Apart from pulling teeth, he also treated horses. Chemists in those days treated just about anything – if you got knocked over in the street they’d bring you in. There was some kind of horse drench he made. The manufacturing was upstairs and next door. We carried on making the corn cure and Exmol – it went all over the country – people just swore by them. It (the process) sort of changed and evolved over the years”. It likely made its way even to Australia as I found a couple of ads of the early 1920s mentioning it on offer. “Louis made an awful lot of stuff. It was all sort of piled upstairs, lots of equipment. It was just left there as we eventually stopped making things when it became too difficult to get some of the ingredients”, says Pam Kennedy. A sad story of a great product that stops being made for yet another reason – not the usual story of being subsumed or abandoned.

Aaron Hodgson and Mike Doig move the early 1920s leadlight sign to it’s new home at Gardens  Shopping Mall Unichem Pharmacy. Image courtesy of and © Otago Images photo gallery and archive.

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However the only person I talked to who actually had known the Galliens personally, was Barry Longstaffe – because he  worked for them. “Yes, Exmol was the big one and Solvo, which was rheumatism stuff. There was quite a big calling for veterinary products – we did good business with products like  “Horse Blister” which was  medicine put on horses hooves to stimulate them, all three sold throughout the country. I think Louis packed Stephen’s inks at one point, Jeye’s Fluid and all sorts of things like that. Stanmore lotion is another one that we used to make a lot of. There was also aftershave, inhalant, footrot cure, and writing ink,  under the Stanmore brand. Linley cream, a hand lotion, a very popular one of ours. Other items that Barry recalled were mosquito cream. goitre tablets, neuralgic cure, flea cure, strychnine, strychnine antidote, borax, stomach powder,blood and skin purifier, asthma and bronchitis, paraffin, purified benzine, camphorated oil, methylated spirits, cod liver oil, drench, worm powders, and syrup of white pine – “…oh, there was about 150 different things”.   “I started my apprenticeship there in 1959, to Bert Gallien. After Bert died, I finished my apprenticeship under the next owner. I remember there were a couple of carboys up there, and the old dentist’s chair. There were thousands of labels lying around. There were racks out the back about two and a half metres high, twenty to thirty metres long for blue castor oil bottles and things… I’m talking thousands.  The Galliens never threw any bottles out. When I started my apprenticeship I was just doing all the odd jobs. I washed them all and we recycled them in those days. I’m not sure that Harry was actually ever fully qualified as a pharmacist.  I think Harry had to work for Bert, I don’t think he could own a pharmacy in his own right because you need to be particularly qualified to do that. But Harry was a very nice person – peaceful and understanding.  Bert had a very short fuse (laughs).  I think I’m the only apprentice ever that survived the full term.  He was too hard to work for really – but I was a very stubborn person.  He would go off the end very quickly and  was very irrational.  Every time his blood pressure raised and he got at me I just let it go in one ear and out the other. Everybody else didn’t last out, but I outlasted them both!”  He certainly did; he later became an owner.

The early 1920s leadlight sign, backlit in it’s new home at Gardens  Shopping Mall Unichem Pharmacy. Original image courtesy of  Chin Nan Loh.

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Louis remained in Dunedin until his death in 1936, but obviously stepped back – a photo which seems to be the very early 1920s of a couple standing outside the pharmacy show a much younger man, obviously Bert Gallien, and probably his sister Bessie, as Bert was the only one of the four offspring to marry, and the record is not showing up – meaning it was post 1932. This picture is clearly much earlier than that so must be a sibling. Also, even if it is after 1925, Harry would still be in his teens and this person is clearly a fair amount older than that. The fact that he is photographed solo also indicates some kind of jurisdiction – so there are several clues to tell who they are. Barry Longstaffe: “Harry, Bessie, and Margaret didn’t marry; Bert and Imelda had no kids. I think it may have been because of their religious beliefs,  they were a very strongly Catholic family, no sex before marriage and all that! We weren’t even allowed to sell condoms in the pharmacy! You can laugh about it now, but at the time they were quite serious about it! So, when they died it was the end of the line”. Well, what can you say to that except – religion clearly won out, although I am not sure what the benefits were in this case. However this latter part of Louis’s career was not without troubles – he received a fine in 1922, along with plenty of newspaper coverage,  when he was charged for over-selling Opium by between ten to twenty times the standard amount used on average by other chemists, and was fined on three counts the maximum charge of a whopping thirty pounds. Maybe he decided it was about time to start thinking about retirement. Meanwhile with Henry busy with his endeavours at the opposite end of the country, by 1873 there are mentions of Henry in Hastings with his family settled in Saint Leonards, known as Allerton at that time (Allerton Street runs Parallel to Gallien Street there – clearly named for the family and their property). In 1877 a mention is made of Henry having the contract to build a church in Hastings but it seems obvious they made their way straight there from Thorndon Quay.  Louis, Charlie (Charles Louis), and Bertha Gallien are noted as attending The Central School there.

Revisions of the original Solvo embrocation recipe through the 1980s by Kennedy and Simpson. Courtesy of the Hocken Library Collection ref MS-2961/004.

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In 1904 the Frimley Foods company had been established by James Nelson Williams in Hastings and was operational, of which the expansive premises were built by Henry’s company. To gain such a massive contract means that he was reputable and very well established by the early 1900s. It wasn’t long before Frimley Foods had exceeded wildest expectations and by the 1906-7 season it was employing a massive 200 individuals as it produced jams in 1 lb , 2 lb and 7 lb tins, dessert fruits, vegetables, pie fruits, tomato ketchup, tomato sauce, baked beans in tomato sauce, wine, and fruit pulp (mostly sold in bulk to Auckland jam manufacturers). By the early 1910s they had added pickles, spices, baking powder, crystallised lemon peel, marmalade, jelly crystals, fruit mince, and dried peas to the range of products, and most pertinent to our story – fruit cordials. The main Frimley orchard was 145 acres, mainly peaches- a massive area that was bounded by Maraekakaho, Omahu and Ormond roads (Kirkpatrick Park, clearly named for the canning company S. Kirkpatrick & Co that I previously wrote on here, https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/branded-with-a-k-kirkpatricks-canny-colossus/ that later purchased Frimley Foods, sits within this).

 Smacked on the hand: Louis seemed to step back from the business fairly soon after this, letting his son Bert (Albert) and then Harry (HLG III) manage the running. Hawera & Normanby Star, 24 January 1922 

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Looking at the satellite mapping around the area of Gallien Street today, in Saint Leonards (obviously the site of the family homestead) not more than a few blocks away is the tellingly named Frimley Park – no doubt where the homestead of Williams was situated once surrounded by 12 acres of orchard gardens. Bordering it are the aptly named Canning, Orchard and Frimley Streets. The factory was in Frimley Avenue on a two acre area. I am sure the success of the business meant rapid expansion kept Henry’s business closely involved with Williams and his Frimley enterprise. However also in 1904, Louis picked up and opened a pharmacy in Dannevirke, not far south-west of his Hastings family – yet it was over before it really got off the ground. Bizarrely, within less than three months Louis had sold the Dannevirke business to a Harry M. Bennett – and left. Nevertheless, he did in that time manage to set things up enough that he produced an embossed chemist bottle with his name; only one example I know of exists and was recorded in an obscure journal by a collector – otherwise we would not know of it.

Korn Kill label, pasted with a 1985 version of the resipe, but probably from the early 1970s. This address was the former Gallien family home a couple of doors down from the pharmacy which became the manufacturing premises for Alandale.  Courtesy of the Hocken Library Collection ref MS-2961/004.

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This data really threw out the story, imagine how it would look jumbled in a slew of records about three related people with exactly the same name – it made no sense at all. What was he suddenly doing in the central North Island? But finally I conjected that Louis moved there from Winton to be closer to his family and it quickly did not work out. Something must have happened to propel this sudden change of plan? It seems that it may have been a court case over some land he owned in the suburb of Frimley, not that far away from his father’s homestead – that was the decider.

This bottle label was pasted into one of the earlier recipe books and clearly the ginger syrup recipe, that Louis later used for Sunrise cordials, was based on it. No doubt the formula was acquired with one of the pre-existing Winton businesses that Louis acquired between 1902-1904, or 1905-1912. Courtesy of the Hocken Library Collection ref MS-2961/002.

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A lengthy article of August 1905 outlines how Louis contracted a Norman L. Gurr as agent to sell thirty acres – which he did. However the tenants – who were growing potatoes and wheat – refused to leave after negotiations broke down, and the new owner was unable to take possession because of this problem. The case was settled in favour of the complainant for 39 pounds,10 shillings. Today that would equal not far off $ NZ 6000.00 just for the settlement, plus court costs. Maybe not an amount that would supposedly break Louis; but in combination with having uprooted and moved two thirds of the way across the country, bought a new house, set up a new enterprise, as well as having invested in a big chunk of land – Losing the much-needed sale of a portion when he probably urgently needed funds ( and whacked with a hefty payout on top of it) may have been the financial tipping point.

NZ Truth, late August 1925. Solvo, along with Exmol, was eventually was distributed throughout Australasia.

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Since Louis was unable to complete the land sale, and was in the red twice over due to having to pay reparation as well – it’s likely he may have not had a choice except to sell his business in Dannevirke immediately to free up some much needed cash, and later make a move to offload the land in Frimley once he got the tenants out, perhaps with a little more palm greasing than the “tenner (that) will get rid of them” – an assumed plan which hadn’t worked previously and had landed him in this mess. It seems he turned around and immediately headed back to Winton for by late 1905 he had an application declined by council to build corrugated iron building on the corner of Wemyss and Great North Roads on land he had purchased (it seems like his run of bad luck wasn’t quite over yet). However things eventually turned around and it was not long before he was back in business as a chemist- and here he stayed after his disastrous North Island foray. through 1908-1910 Louis is listed as the Dominion Drug Co. This was probably the manufacturing business for his products including Gallien’s Emulsion and ink (The Dominion Drug Co that was based in Otago harbour manufacturing fertiliser was not relative), and 1911-1912 saw Louis listed in Winton as writing fluid manufacturer – establishing he stayed in the town that long. Queue his move to Dunedin and the long-running pharmacy there.

On the corner of North Road and Carlyle, the old Gallien’s Pharmacy building still stands today.

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Three doors down from the pharmacy was 27-29 North Road, where the Gallien family resided upstairs until the early 1960s, and it later  became the premises for Alandale Manufacturing in the 1970s and 80s.

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Records show Harry operated the Dunedin pharmacy until 1959 when he passed away. His brother Bert remained until 1963 when he also died, it seems they ran it together until nearly the end. And way to go – in the final year, there is a record of a charge under the Misuse of Drugs Act. A case of “like father, like sons”, it seems. Chemist Alan Hunter took over the business.

This poster was picked out of the dumpster by a former Gallien’s staffer during a big clean-up – and thoughtfully tucked away in a recipe book at home. The fact that it says the product is originally from the north and forty years old, indicates that Louis acquired this formula with his Fielding Pharmacy in 1893-1894 and took it with him. It was a financially rewarding move long-term. Courtesy of Josie Bray.

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A newspaper article listing Louis’s daughter Bessie as winning a prize in a Colgate slogan competition in 1933 noted 29 North Road as the home address. By the mid 1970s a company named Alandale was manufacturing products for Gallien’s from 27 North Road. The building, which was about three lots down the road on the same side, was actually 27-29, says Barry Longstaffe: “27 and 29 was one building – it was double story  and the family lived upstairs.  Louis’s wife, Elisabeth, and Harry were still there when I started in 1959.  I remember a frail little old lady and she used to come downstairs sometimes.  She died not long afterwards, and old Harry died three or four months after I started. After that the house was empty. Under Alan Hunter we started the Alandale Manufacturing business to supply other  pharmacies; olive oil, castor oil, methylated spirits, tablets and the like – and also sold it in our own shop. That would have been in the early to mid 1970s.  The house was turned into space for the manufacturing. It was like a separate business, the guy that looked after the manufacturing side for years was Sydney Todd”. So that explains the details on the White Korn Kill label. It probably also makes some sense of the earlier referral  to a department associated with the business where the manufacturing took place. Around 1972 Hunter then formed a partnership with former apprentice Barry Longstaffe, Alistair Kennedy, and Gordon Simpson, who also had a smaller pharmacy in Pine Hill, the next suburb – which they all took turns looking after. In the mid 1970s Alan Hunter left and Barry Longstaffe departed 1979-1980. Alistair and Pam Kennedy ended up being the next longest owners after they bought Simpson out in the late 1980s- holding onto the business for a significant amount of time until Kennedy passed away in 2000. This is where Chin Loh came into the picture, and stayed until 2008 when the business finished up at that premises for good – having spanned over 105 years. The building is still there, although now a real estate – and in a way Gallien’s still exists in memorial form, across the street – not to be forgotten for the near future thanks to the light up window. Barry Longstaffe remembers: “It was my idea to save that window . That was about the mid 1970s. We decided to rip the whole front window area out because you couldn’t get in there very well to do displays,  and also it  would frost up in the wintertime and the  first job every morning was to squeeze in and wipe the window down – because nobody could see in from the condensation.  So we decided  to replace the front window at the same time and thought that the leadlight could be taken out intact and highlighted in the new pharmacy interior, Our signwriter people did the alterations to it, they were able to box it into the frame and it was put up inside the renovated shop”. 

Managing Director Chin Nan Loh with the original Gallien leadlight window installed in his Unichem Pharmacy, just across North Road from the original building. Image courtesy of and © Chin Nan Loh.

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So although my beautiful labels clearly state that “H. Louis.Gallien, Dunedin” is the manufacturer of the cordials, is it possible that the Frimley factory made the cordials and shipped them to him from their stock of raspberry – as well as pineapple, blackcurrant and lemon that they introduced in 1910? Or did Louis make them himself? Eventually, I disproved this theory by the recipes that were found buried in the Hocken Collection confirming that Louis indeed devised his own formulas for the drink syrups and it had nothing to do at all with Frimley.

As for the Frimley canning company, – it was hit with a massive frost in late 1911, losing an estimated £10,000 and was sold to Kirkpatrick & Co in 1913, a year before Henry’s death. In 1925 it was purchased by Henry Jones Co-op, Ltd, of Australia who sold to Wattie’s in the late 1930s – the behemoth’s first acquisition of someone else’s brand. That’s another story for another time! a a a

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Prologue: I actually completed the bulk of this tale nearly a year ago, and it was the first real investigative piece that I threw myself into and really followed the trail from archives to dumpsters to get the whole story. As such it earmarked a serious turning point for this blog. I was amazed at the things that, with a lot of digging and persistence, I was able to find, especially in important collections – about this Dunedin business of little consequence except that it been in the same family for fifty years. This point in its self was not all that remarkable. What was remarkable, however, was that so many things had been retained and preserved, although scattered. A lot of this was just the kind of chance stuff that either makes a story or breaks it. As such I have quite a list of people to give my appreciation to who helped make this story happen, which follows below.

Thanks to former employees of Gallien’s Josie Bray (1979-2000) and Janice Sew Hoy (1983-2001). Pam Kennedy, Barry Longstaffe and Chin Nan Loh, former owners of Gallien’s Pharmacy. Jill and Alan Griffith for glass and bottle images; Jill Haley, archivist from the Otago Settler’s Museum, Dunedin City Council; Judith Clarke, Display Artist/Cataloguer, Otago Medical Alumni’s Medical and Pharmacy Museum; Faculty of Medicine, University of Otago; James Windle , Professional Practice Fellow, New Zealand’s National School of Pharmacy Archives, University of Otago. Lorraine Johnston from the Heritage Collection at Dunedin Public Libraries; and Kate Guthrie, Assistant Archivist, Archives & Manuscripts, the Hocken Library, Delwyn Lone of Funeral Notices database, Lisa Truttman of Timespanner, and Anita De Soto.

All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2012. All rights reserved.

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Gallien Strychnine Antidote edit desaturated SML Addendum Feb 2013: This tin came up on Trade Me last week. It contained the Strychnine Antidote  that Barry Longstaffe mentioned in his interview – when listing off the long roster of Gallien products that were being produced when he began his tenure. There’s a couple of interesting things here. Given that the tin is marked with Albert Gallien’s name only, lends some credence to the memory of Barry’s that Bert’s brother Harry was perhaps never fully qualified as a pharmacist. In my research I never ran across a second middle name for Albert so I have no idea what the W. stands for. The tin was obviously produced at some time between 1936-1963, but probably dates from some time in the 1950s, however I have no awareness of the history of Strychnine in New Zealand – and at which time it fell out of favour – which may narrow the likely date. Also, I was interested that the area was already being referred to as “The Gardens” back then;  as it sounded like the sort of  faux-cutesy corporate name people that build malls come up with – so I assumed it was quite a recent advent and came about when they built the new shopping centre there. 

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Addendum May 2013: This brown glass  apothecary jar from Kinder’s stretch at 19 Main Street, North East Valley – between 1902-1912 – popped up on Trade Me this week.

W Kinder north East Valley Gardens copy  smaller

The Packaging of Progeny: Wattie’s Baby Foods

In Defiance, Farex cereals, Glaxo Laboratories (NZ) Ltd, Heinz, Joseph Nathan and Sons, Robinson's, Sir Frederic Truby King, The New Zealand Plunket Society, Wattie Cannery Ltd, Wattie's, Wattie's baby food, Wattie's junior food, Wattie's-Plunket Society baby food on October 2, 2012 at 10.46

Wattie’s baby foods can labels over a number of years, from top: 1968-69/1972-73, 1966, 1968-69/1972-73, 1968-69/1972-73, 1958, 1966, and 1968-69/1972-73.

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I realise that I have done probably ten or more posts on Wattie’s over the last couple of years, and I still haven’t gotten around to a “definitive” one. Well, it’s on the list, with quite a few other things – believe me. There is a lot of ground to cover on that brand but today I am just going to focus on the ranges of baby foods that they did.
There were various Brands of what was considered “infant foods” in New Zealand in the early days which usually went in hand-in-hand with what was dubbed “invalid food”.
From at least the 1860s onwards the popular and long-lasting Robinson’s brand, most famous for their lemon barley water – produced barley, groats, and also a mixture of both.

A still from one of the early Wattie’s baby foods ads, late 1950s.

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It wasn’t until the 1890s-1900s that the concept of baby food and infant dietary supplements became a trend and brands like Mellin’s, Benger’s, Neave’s, Nestlé and Virol cropped up and hung around for a few decades into the 1930s-1940s. By the 1910s- 1920s, baked rusks for teething were becoming a popular idea specifically marketed to infants.
Probably the most popular and long lasting brand of all was Glaxo by Glaxo Laboratories (NZ) Ltd, which was created and made in Bunnythorpe in the Manawatu-Wanganui region when Joseph Nathan and Sons founded the factory in 1904 (starting out as Defiance brand dried milk powder and butter).

Wattie’s first launched their infant food line in 1958 in direct response to the government cutting imports of this product by half. The company immediately responded to this opening in the market with apple, prune and meat-based meals. By the following year, the baby line had nine varieties and the junior line seven.
So this was not a new concept in new Zealand; food specifically for babies. I don’t know what other brands were being brought in previously- I am taking a guess at Heinz for one.However Wattie’s can claim the first domestically produced line.

Wattie’s baby foods advertisement from a magazine, 1966.

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Recently I was lucky enough to get hold of a rare booklet that was issued to introduce it to consumers, well – the mothers of consumers really. It doesn’t seem that it’s early days of this product going in store because the range is quite expansive – yet it appears to be around time that the product was first being produced in glass jars in addition to the two sizes of cans – so I would date it between 1960 and 1965.

You can see a page from the booklet shows the entire list in the first range which was actually fairly large, and comprised of two lines: baby foods (strained) and junior foods (chopped, for more mature infants).
The New Zealand Plunket Society was founded in 1907 in Dunedin by child health visionary, Sir Frederic Truby King – to help mothers improve infant malnutrition rates and prevent disease. Wattie’s worked with them and gained their official approval for the product – which of course was an immediate success as a result.

The line was regularly revised, changed and added to over the years with the products being introduced in jars in the mid 1960s, shown here in the advert I recently purchased. I’ve recreated both the labels from it. I’m pretty sure I remember the labels and in other colours as well, such as pink and orange, from the early-mid seventies. But I haven’t come across any yet, or maybe I’m remembering it wrong. It took ages just to get hold of the artwork for the baby’s head and I was able to revise my earlier attempt at recreating it here in May 2011

https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/grocery-archaeology/

which was probably one of the first things that I actually made when I started this project. Looking back on it now I guess it is pretty bad – but I did the best that I could of the time with little material available and the couple of collectors I approached about it – being difficult about even answering whether they had any baby food labels, like it was some kind of state secret. Anyway finally the problem resolved itself.

Wattie’s relaunched the range as “Wattie’s-Plunket Society” in 1990. Over fifty years strong, the range continues to be produced today and comprises of over eighty varieties in the Baby and Organics ranges as well as additional lines of Heinz Simply and Little Kids, and also Nurture formulas and Farex cereals. Wattie’s continue to work closely with the society and and have created the ForBaby project and website resource.

Wattie’s “Lullaby” advert for their baby food line, early 1960s

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A still from one of the early Wattie’s baby foods ads, late 1950s.

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Branded with a K: Kirkpatrick’s Canny Colossus

In "K", "K" Brand, Anderson & Son coffee and spices, Butland Industries, Canned Goods, Centennial Kirkpatrick House, Crest Fine Foods, David Owers coffee and spices, Denniston and Co, Duryea's Maizena, Faulding's, Frimley Foods, Frimley Fruit Canning Works, Heinz Watties, Henderson Sweets, Henry Jones Co-op Ltd, Imperial jam, IXL brand, jam, James Stedman, John Heaton Barker, Jumbo Baking Powder, Kirkpatrick, Nelson Jam and Fruit Processing Company, Playtime jam, Samuel Kirkpatrick, Sweetacres, The Nelson Fish Company, Thompson & Hill, Unilever, Wattie Cannery Ltd, Wattie's, Wheatena on August 17, 2012 at 10.46

It has taken me months on and off to find the material and finish off this recreation of a “K” jam label from a photo. Creating the fruit illustration was complicated and difficult. I believe it dates from the late 1920s- early 1930s.
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“K” brand was one of the longest lasting, and most popular product lines to come out of New Zealand. You probably haven’t heard of it, and it is true that it has been long forgotten since it shut up shop at the beginning of the 1970s – but it lasted ninety years in the cupboards and on the tables of Kiwi households.

A later version of the label above, probably late 1940s-early 1950s era. Photo courtesy of  Trade Me member Shakaya. 
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S. Kirkpatrick & Company was established in Nelson, “the fruit, hops and flower garden of New Zealand”, in 1881 where it came to be the most important business in the district – as its major employer. The firm’s biggest enterprise was jam, and following that canned fruit, vegetables and meat, and such was its impact – that it had a marked effect on the geographical nature of agriculture in the region, as well as other industries such as fishing. The business was quickly producing 1,000 units a day using up all those tons of pesky wasted fruit that local producers just couldn’t offload. It wasn’t long before the ‘K’ Brand of jam in its colourful label was recognised throughout Australasia.

Custard Powder and Egg Powder, Nelson Evening Mail, June 1905.
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Samuel Kirkpatrick was born in County Down, Ireland, between 1853 and 1854, where he went to school in Newry. After graduating from Walton College, Liverpool he spent five years with a wholesale food merchant learning the ropes. Kirkpatrick then emigrated to the U.S. for some years – working for tea wholesalers in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In 1876 his entree to future success came with his removal to California where he worked in two large fruit canneries in San Francisco (in what capacity this work was exactly, I am unsure).

Teenage workers stir jam pans inside the “K” Factory. Image courtesy of Nelson Provincial Museum, F. N. Jones Collection, Reference 6×8 29
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Sources seem to differ on the date – but it seems Kirkpatrick probably arrived in New Zealand in 1878 and worked as a travelling salesperson for merchants and commission agents Renshaw, Denniston and Co, in Dunedin, through 1879. They sold farming equipment such as reapers and binders , as well as more workaday items from cornsacks to paint and wire. They were also agents for various loans, marine and fire insurance (the partnership dissolved by March 1880).

S. Kirkpatrick and Co. Ltd business letterhead, Courtesy of the Hocken Archives and Manuscripts collection, ref UN-023/144
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However Kirkpatrick, with his experience in agency, sales, foodstuffs and the canning industry together had his sights set higher. He could see the raw potential of the Nelson area with it’s ideal fruit-growing temperament – and it wasn’t long before he contacted a group he had heard had a similar idea and were investigating the establishment of a fruit processing plant in the area.

“K” multi-purpose canned meat label, circa 1900. Image courtesy of the Printed Ephemera Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref Eph-F-MEAT-Gear-130
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Kirkpatrick became not only a significant shareholder, but struck a deal to manage what was to be known as the Nelson Jam and Fruit Processing Company. He leased a former textile mill in Bridge Street as premises, from the Webley Brothers who had a company named ” Webley’s Nelson Cloth“. They had gone out of business due to competition amongst manufacturers and Kirkpatrick emptied the buildings offloading all the equipment to Kaiapoi Woollen Mills. Supposedly this occurred in 1876, but I’m guessing the date quoted is wrong, since firstly Kirkpatrick was documented working in the U.S. at the time, and also RD & Co were advertising sub-agent positions in 1878 – so that data seems to back up that he started working for them then – and not earlier.

He returned to Britain the following year to arrange the shipment of an entire canning plant to set up in the new factory . He brought back with him his aunt , and his mother who was now widowed.
From the 1880s a large variety of jams, conserves, jellies and marmalades were produced in 1 pound and 2 pound stone jars. They also produced the preserves in glass jars, perhaps a bit later on. In the 1890s preserves were also available in 1lb, 2lb, and 7lb tins and they added that Kiwi classic lemon cheese to the roster. They were also marketing coffee under their own company moniker – although generally they were using the “K” label for almost everything at this point.

“K” marmalade advert, New Zealand Illustrated Magazine, August 1903

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Production had doubled by 1896, and the current factory buildings now being insufficient to cope with demand, Kirkpatrick purchased land at the corner of Gloucester and Vanguard streets for a new factory – in which he installed the most modern and efficient machinery and fittings of the time. His marriage of this same year lasted a very short time when his wife died from Tuberculosis by 1899. However at this point he was buried in work – with significant expansion of the buildings constructed to accommodate rapid growth, the company now had “the largest wooden building in the colony” and its own can making and printing plants – each can that came out of the factory was made and labelled by hand. Eventually the premises covered about 30,000 square feet.

“K ” Brand jam jar, date unknown – I am guessing 1920s. Photo courtesy of the Mataura & Districts Historical Society Incorporated collection.
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The company now branched out into coffee under the ” K” brand as well as spices – having bought the business of Anderson & Son, Wellington. “Jumbo” was a Kirkpatrick baking powder label of the 1900s that was acquired as part of the package with the Anderson transaction – who had previously sold the patent, trademark, and all the machinery to a coffee and spice merchant David Owers of Timaru in 1893. Somehow it made its way back to the original owners who sweetened the deal by including it, however even though heavily advertised by the end of the decade it seems to have been dropped from the list of products.

 Competition campaign by the Charles Haines agency, Hawera & Normanby Star, March 1923

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The business continued to grow rapidly and by 1901 the factory was employing 60 individuals full-time just in the off-season – and double during the busy period. Kirkpatrick had a concern not only with hygiene, but with good working conditions for his employees – which earned him great respect. “It is an interesting sight to see thirty or forty girls, neatly dressed, and in harmony with the general cleanliness of the whole establishment, picking and sorting the fruit with a quickness, which to the uninitiated must seem incredible. A happy feeling evidently exists between the girls and their employer, to judge by the contented faces the visitor sees around him”.
Kirkpatrick was described as a neat and “dapper man with a retiring disposition”. However for all his concern of his workers and their comfort – as well as his receding temperament it seems he was near in matters of quite insignificant things, and had no hesitation to voice his concerns; There is a letter in existence from Kirkpatrick written in 1917 when he was no doubt already rich. He writes to a handkerchief company complaining that there were only eleven handkerchiefs in the pack of twelve that he purchased and could they please reimburse him or replace the missing one.

Advertising for various “K ” products, date unknown but likely late 1890s-early 1900s. Note missing text which probably said “your grocer sells them.”
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Now with a large range of preserves, canned fruits, vegetables and meats (including pig’s feet in jelly, lobster, brawn, Irish Stew, ox and sheep tongue, Scotch haggis, boiled fowl, and curried rabbit to name a few) – In the decade of the 1900s the product range expanded in a massive way as follows: fruit mincemeat, honey, raspberry and table vinegar, pie fruits, poultry tonic, salad cream, tomato sauce, “K” Sauce, mushroom ketchup, pickles, condiments, curry powder, custard powder (six flavours), baking powder and egg powder, bird seed, Wheatena (presumably a product similar to Maizena and Creamota, to be used for both cooking and breakfast cereal) plum puddings, potted meats, ground rice, pea flour , pea meal and wheatmeal, linseed, arrowroot, spiced sausage flour, icing and castor sugar, desiccated coconut, cream of tartar, bicarbonate soda, citric and tartaric acid, carbonated ammonia, starch glaze, pickling spice, beef tea, dried herbs, hops, pickles, and boracic acid. “New lines are constantly being added”, noted an article of 1906, – such as gravy browning and tomato chutney in the 1910s.

Jumbo was a short-lived Kirkpatrick foray that had been around for a decade with two previous owners, before it came into their possession. From the Nelson Evening Mail, August 1900
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Kirkpatrick & Co. also acted as agents for a variety of international products such as Nestlé, Peters, and Kohler’s chocolates, Henderson’s sweets by  James Stedman of Sydney (later better known as Sweetacres) as well as Faulding’s products like eucalyptus extract., cloudy ammonia, and olive oil.

Another children’s competition campaign of 1922, again by Kirkpatrick’s preferred advertising agency – Haines.
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In 1904 Kirkpatrick acquired The Nelson Fish Company – a producer of smoked, chilled and frozen fish which was packed in pumice and sent far and wide. In prime position on the edge of the Nelson harbour, the large, hygienic white premises also did a roaring trade in ice.

The “K” Factory,  October 1900 from the Auckland Weekly News. Courtesy of Auckland Council Heritage Images, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19001012-4-6
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Now in its heydays, the Kirkpatrick enterprise was during this period apparently the biggest canning and jam factory in Australia and New Zealand combined.

“K” spag with cheese had been around since at least the 1930s, but these  probably date from the early 1950s era. Photo courtesy of Trade Me member Shakaya.
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Kirkpatrick in his spare time was quite the sports enthusiast with a particular fondness for the game of hockey, and eventually became president of the Nelson Association. In 1924 he founded and first presented the silver ‘K’ Cup as the trophy for women’s hockey. He was a Freemason and held the rank of deputy grand master of the District Grand Lodge of Westland and Nelson. Like many foodstuffs industry bigwigs such as Barker (Four Square) and Dustin (Buttermaid), who found that wider power came with industrial clout – he also stepped into the public eye via favoured community organisations, and inevitably into the more political arena serving a term as a city councillor from 1898.

“K” advertising blotters issued in 1925. Original photo used for composite is courtesy of Graham Bulman.
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He died in 1925 and the Henry Jones Co-op Ltd purchased the company (an Australian company founded by Henry Michael Jones, famous for the IXL brand which also had with an extensive range of food processing plants in New Zealand cities as well as Tasmania and Melbourne). In 1913, Kirkpatrick had made a grab for the financially-troubled Frimley brand so this was also part of the takeover. At some point in the late 1930s it was passed from Henry Jones to Wattie’s – one of their earliest acquisitions – if not the first in a long list of brands they snapped up to eventually become number one. I covered the Frimley brand in brief here :

https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/saucing-material/

The “K” Factory in October 1964, just after news of the Wattie’s takeover. From the Nelson Photo News. Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Nelson Library Inc.
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In the 1920s ads for tomato soup, Xmas puddings and a product named “Musto” (a spice base mix for making piccalilli and chow chow, later made by Trent’s, The NZ Coffee and Spice Co Ltd,  under their Good Cook line) appear in newspapers as well as on other advertising like blotters. The 1930s saw canned spaghetti in tomato sauce, or with added cheese; baked beans, vegetable soup, and that good old depression staple pork & beans. Things took a more exotic turn with loganberries, dessert raspberries, and diced fruit salad on offer. By this time fruit and vegetable products on sale under the “K” label were in the dozens.

Famous Wellington grocery store and delicatessen Fuller-Fulton advertising Kirkpatrick Soups. Evening Post, June 1935
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“Imperial” was a subsidiary brand trademarked in 1909 and lasted well into the 1930s. Although it was registered to cover just about every category of product under “K”, it seems it may only have ever been produced as canned jam. Still – it was around for a good quarter century so can be deemed successful.

IGA stores advertising, circa late 1950s-early 1960s.
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According to IPONZ, It seems as if the Crest brand (almost unknown now, but during the 1950s it was in fact far bigger than Wattie’s) also came under the auspices of Kirkpatrick & Co while it was under ownership of  the Henry Jones company. After being passed from behemoth Butland Industries to Unilever, it was a very short time before it was sold on again – seemingly a year or so. For just a few months in 1960 the company had some sort of joint arrangement with Wattie’s over the brand – which was over by November of that year when all the categories were re-registered solely to Heinz Watties.

An event at the Kirkpatrick family home, Nelson. Provenance and year of photo unknown, but looks to be late 1920s-early 1930s judging by the costume styles.
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In 1964, Wattie’s took over S. Kirkpatrick & Co., Ltd., as well as Thompson & Hills Ltd – now both subsidiaries of The Henry Jones Co-op Ltd in the same factory. So at this point the round-up included OAK, Playtime, and “K” brands. By 1971 they had dismantled the brand and shut down the Nelson factory which was producing all of these labels as well as, of course, a number of Wattie’s products and Watties-owned brands by this point in time.

Known as Kirkpatrick House for well over 70 years, the home served as a charitable girl’s boarding house and then a backpackers.  Photographed in 2009, it still stands in Mount Street as part of a new estate.
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By the end of the 1960s “K” jam and soup had lasted the whole distance, with the last record of product I have seen, being of marmalade in the final year of business. But sadly that was the end for the Kirkpatrick name as far as foodstuffs (as well as Thompson & Hills’ Playtime Jam – which had been around since at least the 1920s).

“K” jam label from my personal collection, circa mid-late 1960s
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The factory site was eventually demolished to construct a New World supermarket – in a somewhat ironic turn a Foodstuffs NZ Ltd – initiated chain built on the very spot where founding father of Four Square,  J. Heaton Barker had worked for Samuel Kirkpatrick up until 1901 (I covered this in my previous article).

“K” soup label from my personal collection, circa mid-late 1960s
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The family residence in Mount Street was called Kirkpatrick House ( later Centennial Kirkpatrick House ), and still presides high on the steep hill looking down to the factory site; it can be easily seen from the supermarket parking lot. It had been left by Kirkpatrick in his will along with a substantial monetary bequest to provide a roof for daughters of deceased Freemasons who needed somewhere to stay when they came from rural areas and surrounds, to finish their education at Nelson College for Girls (eventually anyone sponsored by a Masonic organisation was eligible). Perhaps they also worked in the factory, especially during peak season – it’s highly likely as the “K’ factory was always short-staffed. Hundreds boarded there over a seventy year period until the late 1990s when it became a hostel – the Club Nelson Backpackers. The house was sold off as one of several lots of land in late 2011, part of what is now an “eco” housing estate project .

Marmalade advert, Evening Post, July 1911.
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Nearly ninety years later, his estate still sponsors girls to board at the college’s in-house accommodation. Samuel Kirkpatrick played a major role in the Nelson district’s development, through his fostering of agriculture, horticulture , significant employment of labour – but also charitable acts which have become a lasting legacy.

A Miss Bush in a rather unfortunate outfit advertising Kirkpatrick & Co’s strawberry and raspberry jams, as well as orange marmalade, around 1898. Image courtesy of the Nelson Provincial Museum, Tyree Studio Collection, Reference: 62826.

Postscript June 2014: When I wrote and posted this article, I am not sure how aware I was that William and Frederick Tyree, the photographers, were my great-aunt’s uncles. Never expecting to have even a tentative connection to anything I research, I was nevertheless quite pleased to discover this family connection.

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Addendum Sept 2012: This label just in from a British dealer. I have never seen this before and I am guessing it dates somewhere around 1900s-1910s. Why would a previously unseen-for-sale-in-the-Anipodes label end up in the U.K., one might ask? 

This may be the answer, in an ad from a Grocer’s Review magazine of 1948 which shows the can in one of the photos at the top of the post. By accounts, “K” had quite a market not only in Australia, but made it as far as Britain as well.  Image courtesy of Mike Davidson, who scrounged it up from his magazine collection especially for me. 

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Addendum early Jan 2013: I found this ad for the Musto product by S. Kirkpatrick & Co, April 1921. This was part of a series from a campaign by the Charles Haines agency for the “K” brand.

MUSTO KEWPIE - K KIRKPATRICK - HAINES - Auckland Star 4 April 1921 Page 8 copy

 

Power Outlet: The Force of Four Square and Foodstuffs NZ Ltd

In "K" Brand, 4 Triangle, AG Stores, Arrow Butter, Auckland Master Grocers' Association, Baker's Review, Budget brand, Central Provision Stores, Checkout Four Square board game, Cheeky Charlie, Ches and Dale, CPS Stores, Dick Frizzell, Dormer-Beck, Farmer's, Farmer's Co-op, Farmer's Trading Co., Fletcher's Stores, Food Fair, Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd, Four Square, Four Square Stores (Australia) Pty Ltd, Four Square Supermarkets, Four Triangle, Green and Colebrook stores, Grocers' Review, Icon Products, John Heaton Barker, Kirkpatrick, Laidlaw Leeds mail order company, Ltd, McKenzies stores, Mr. Four Square, National Cash Register Co, New World Supermarkets, New Zealand Grocer's and Baker's Review, New Zealand Grocergram, New Zealand Master Baker's associatio, NZ Master Grocer's Association, NZ Master Grocer's Federation, Pak 'N' Save supermarkets, Pam's Products, Rawakelle tea, S Kirkpatrick and Co Ltd, Self Help Stores, Sir Harry Heaton Barker, Te Aroha Dairy Company, The Farmers Union Trading Company, Triangle brand, Uncategorized, United Buyers, Wattie's, Weston-Frizzell, Woolworth's Food Fair, Woolworth's stores, Woolworth's supermarkets on August 7, 2012 at 10.46

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A recreation I’ve made of a rare Australian contest poster of the 1950s.

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The Four Square brand originally emerged from a grocers’ co-op, which was established based on the concern that competition from grocery chain stores in the New Zealand market place was making business very difficult for small, independent store operators. How much truth there is to this claim is dubious since at that period of time in the early 1920s, the only specific food chain that comes to mind that would have provided any serious competition was Self Help, also a co-operative, which I covered previously in a fairly brief and superficial article of May this year here.

J. T. Hammond’s Mangatoki Four Square with sign writing done by Jack Wood, probably 1930s. Courtesy of the Puke Ariki collection.

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Between just 1922 and 1923, during the initial formation by the Auckland Master Grocers’ Association of what was soon to become Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd, Self Help had gone from just one store to a string of seven which must have been a frightening concept for anyone in the field looking to the near future and their prospects within.

Logos through the decades, clockwise from left: mid-late 1920s, 1932, late 1950s-early 1960s, mid 1930s-early 1940s, unknown – probably late 1940s , and 1980. From the mid 1950s the logo has remained almost the same in colour and design. a

Although a small company named Fletcher’s can probably lay claim to being the very first “self-service” style enterprise in the history of New Zealand, it had probably fizzled out by the early twenties. However in 1919 Laidlaw Leeds, a very successful mail order company had acquired the Green and Colebrook chain to become Farmer’s Co-op and they opened their twenty-ninth store in 1921. Although a general department store, Farmer’s were marketing at least flour, tea and spices that I am aware of, but hardly specific competition, however – that may have been all it took.

Colouring book produced as a competition promotion in 1954. a

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Since at the time the Self Help concept was a huge revelation in grocery shopping and pricing I can only conject that Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd was formed in direct response to Self Help’s extremely sudden success within that narrow timeframe – having pushed the situation to the edge. This allegedly pertinent issue was raised by a man named John Heaton Barker – to Auckland’s main grocers’ association, in early July of 1922. The co-op became official when it formed a company – which was registered on 1st of April, 1925. It’s first contract was with Te Aroha Dairy Company to carry their “Arrow” brand butter. Co-operatives were also formed in Wellington (named United Buyers, the same year, 1922, which became the “4 Triangle” chain) and in Christchurch (1928, which was named the “AG Stores”) . By 1935 all these co-ops had already come under the Four Square brand but were now officially renamed branches of Foodstuffs Ltd.

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Advertisement showing the white pepper and cornflour from their self line, Evening Post, March 1934 a

Seemingly well documented, the Foodstuffs legend goes that on the 4th of July 1924, two years into the co-op being formed, Barker, in position of company secretary at this time – was doodling on a pad during a telephone conversation with his colleagues and drew a square around the date. He presented this concept with the buoying manifesto that the group would stand ‘four square to all the winds that blew”.

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Above: Four Square white pepper tin from my own collection. This design was in use during 1934-1935. Below, I’ve recreated the label.

It wasn’t long before the first logos for the brand were bumped into all the stores in the form of hand-painted glass signs, with products appearing under the moniker by the end of that year. A primitive version of the formal logos we know today were going up on stores by 1929, with 4 Triangle, and AG Stores becoming part of Four Square not long after in December 1933 – as well as another co-op which had been formed in Southland (but much later down the track, in 1948) . The distinctive colours, however, were not adopted until 1931 when on a field trip to view a particular store belonging to a Mr. McInnes, the initial tangerine and yellow scheme (with green added to it in the form of the logo) was requisitioned.

Promotional puzzle showing many of Four Square’s line of products circa late 1940s. Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Manuscripts and Pictorial collection. a

By the time the early thirties co-op merger had taken place (of which the date both Fairfax’s Business Hall of Fame profile as well as Foodstuff’s own history quote incorrectly), Four Square now boasted a total of 266 stores nationwide – what can only be described as an explosive success and had far outstripped even the phenomenal growth success of Self Help – and not even bothering to mention any other competition like McKenzies, Woolworths and Farmer’s which were semi- players at best in the burgeoning grocery market at the time. In 1935 the stores bearing Four Square signage were at 285. By the post war years food groceries bearing the Four Square name had shot up to nearly 400 and climbing quickly – 700 by 1950. By 1956 there were an amazing 1000 stores nationwide.

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Promotional game produced in Australia, probably the mid 1960s. a

By some time in the 1950s Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd had decided to hop the ditch to invade our Australian cousins, as my poster recreation at the head of this post, as well as the  board game on road safety I have found above, attest. By 1980 a Happy Family promotion shows the logo for Australian chain CPS (Central Provision Stores), alongside Four Square and New World’s logos – having been added to the empire via Four Square Stores (Australia) Pty Ltd.

J. Heaton Barker’s new offices bringing everything together under one roof – Auckland Star, 8 October, 1925. a

Barker was one of two children of a family from Derby, Britain. Perhaps his father – mention is made of a John William Barker – stayed behind when he immigrated with his mother and sister in 1886; arriving in Wellington on 6th August aboard the S.S. Ionic. Perhaps he died, and they decided to leave. Whatever the story was, his mother was free to marry a Reverend John Crump seven years later. A devout Christian, J. H. Barker was seriously involved in the Baptist church throughout his life, particularly in Mount Eden, Auckland where he was an elder, and at various times a chair, treasurer, as well as president of the City Baptist Auxiliary.

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Promotional Snap set featuring many popular products sold through Four Square stores; circa late 1950s-early 1960s. a

That was much later on in his life though; originally he settled in Nelson (where he was the facilitator of the PSA or “Pleasant Sunday Afternoon’ movement which had begun in Britain, was active in the Mutual Improvement Society, and on occasion stood in for his local pastor at the pulpit, was a member of council for the NZ Accountant’s and Auditor’s Association, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, and secretary of the Foreign and British Bible Society).

Promotional Snap set featuring many popular products sold through Four Square stores; circa late 1950s-early 1960s. a

More specifically he had spent time in Richmond to the south-west of the town where he was at one time or another secretary of the Richmond Lawn Tennis Club and also the Workingmen’s Club (I think at this point we can already establish that he was quite the busybody do-gooder). In 1896 he sold up and moved to a more central location in Bronte Street, Nelson.

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In-store Disney promotion – Hutt News, December 1934. a

In an article entitled “Farewell to Mr. and Mrs. Barker” in the Nelson Evening Mail of 14th March, 1901, an interesting mention is made – of Barker’s “severing his connection with S. Kirkpatrick and Co., Ltd” in order to move. This was a popular foodstuffs company primarily famous for their jam, in particular the “K” brand, but ranged across a wide array of products from jelly crystals, canned meat and spices to coffee, poultry tonic, vinegar, honey and baking powder.

Triangle brand products – Evening Post, December 1933 . a

This is a very interesting detail to discover because Kirkpatrick play an intrinsic part in the corporate history of the canned food industry in New Zealand – passing through a number of owners and lasting into 1971 when it was finally dismantled by Wattie’s upon their acquisition of the brand and Nelson factory. In what capacity he worked for the firm is unknown (presumably accounting); but whatever it was he had achieved in just a few short years it was important enough for Mr. Kirkpatrick , the CEO himself, to attend in person and present Barker with a gold Albert fob chain for his services.

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An unusual Four Square promotional chair which was auctioned recently. Photos © and courtesy of Trademe menber cache10 (Phil). a

He moved with his wife Mattie and eight offspring to Wellington in 1902 (where he was president of the city’s Sunday School Union, president of the Sunday School Teacher’s Association, vice-president of the YMCA Cricket Club, vice-president of the Gregg Shorthand Association, and prone to giving rousing public speeches on the gospel everywhere he could, it seems).

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Four Square’s self line of preserving jar skins probably date from the 1950s or early 1960s. From my personal collection. a

In 1907 we find him managing director of Messrs. Yerox, Barker and Finlay, Ltd., a company primarily moving cash registers and typewriters. In 1908 he moved to directing the interests of the National Cash Register Co in New Zealand at 17-19 Cuba Street – and in 1911 he gained inches of press when he invented an automated telegram sorting and stamping machine, which was subsequently installed in Wellington’s General Post Office. Following that the family relocated to Auckland in 1912 (where he had a spell as a director on the board of the Auckland YMCA, and led Baptist services at various church venues).

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Rare canisters issued for the Southland Four Square Co-op’s general area centennial of 1956 crop up at auction very occasionally to be bid on competitively. a

Presumably he eventually became somehow involved in the grocery industry to bring him into the relative picture; A newspaper article of 1924, in which he is called to give testimony in a case to do with milling industry price fixing, defines him as the Auckland secretary of the New Zealand Master Baker’s association, as well as the editor of their magazine “Baker’s Review” since 1920 (he remained secretary until 1930 when he stood down voluntarily).

George Allen and staff in the Dominion Road Four Square store, Auckland, late 1940s. Photo © and courtesy of the estate of George Allen. a

Clearly from the court report he was a significant player in the supply and demand of flour and other goods for some years. Quite frankly I was surprised to find a dearth of biographical information on a major player in New Zealand industry; One of his children grew up to become well-known newspaper editor and politician Sir Harry Heaton Barker – and much more is written of his long term mayor son. Certainly at this point with his various experiences in foodstuffs, accounting, sales, administration and a clear talent for creative invention – he had everything he needed to take things to a spectacular new level.

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Advertisement showing the custard powder and tea from their self line, Auckland Star, 11 April, 1935. a

Barker, as well as also being secretary, accountant and auditor of the NZ Master Grocer’s Association – ran the Auckland branch of the food co-op from its inception until 1934 when he became director of Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd – a position he remained in until 1947 when he passed away. In 1932 he was made a life member of the New Zealand Master Grocer’s Federation, of which he had been secretary since 1923.

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Four Square brochure of 1977 showing product specials to celebrate the 21st anniversary of Four Square in Otago/Southland. Image courtesy of the Foodstuffs (NZ) Archive. a

He also launched an industry magazine, “Grocers’ Review” in the early 1920s – which later seems to have joined forces with the milling industry and amalgamated his previous work there to become “New Zealand Grocer’s and Baker’s Review“. Sources seem to indicate that this version wrapped up in 1939; what I have seen from the Foodstuffs Ltd archive (I was lucky enough to get an insider peek at their collection courtesy of a food technician friend who is part of the team, and loves retro stuff herself) show two images of a “New Zealand Grocergram” magazine so presumably that became it’s moniker. Last reference to it in public collections is in 1974 -1975 however AdMedia ran an article in 2003 that it was being revamped. Current status is unknown, with the website down – but presumably it is still running – if so making it one of the longest running periodicals in the history of the country.

Waxed cardboard pot for Four Square’s self line of honey from the Christchurch Co-op, circa mid 1970s. a

By the mid 1930s Four Square had under its own line tea, honey, culinary essences, Worcester and tomato sauces, cornflour, macaroni and vermicelli, custard powder, malt extract, butter, coffee essence, spices, salt and pepper, canned fruit, and raisins. There was also jellies, candles, soap and toilet paper under the “Triangle” brand. Later boxed chocolates, vinegar, and cordials were added (1940s) as well as mixed dried fruit, preserving equipment,  and “Rawakelle“; their brand of tea that was in the 1950s and 1960s quite popular with the public.

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Front of cardboard box for Four Square’s self line of dried cake fruit from the Foodstuffs archive collection, probably early 1960s. a

Starting with baking powder – and then a few years following custard powder – “Pam’s” was launched by Four Square Stores in 1937 to offer lower price, quality goods that competed even more vigorously with opposing chain’s lower price bracket products. Although there were several “self” lines from other stores at the time, “Pam’s”  has stood alone, lasted into the present day as a “private” brand, probably the only surviving one. I previously documented my recreation of the first Pam’s marketing campaign/product label when I wrote about agency Dormer-Beck, who were behind it, here.

Advertisement announcing merger of 4 Triangle and AG Stores under the Four Square brand, making a total of 266 stores. Evening Post, December 1933. the co-ops changed their names to Foodstuffs two years later in 1935. a

Mr. Four Square” , who has also come to be known as “Cheeky Charlie“, was a welcoming storeman figure with a big thumbs up – yet to many he always had a slightly imposing, sinister air about him (he looks like the type of guy that if you were left alone in the store room with him he might try to cop a feel). The mascot was developed sometime in the 1950s for print advertising initially – although the exact date and who the specific the creator of the character was, is unclear – one source quotes the Foodstuffs advertising department as responsible. Another states it was a son of J.H. Barker’s who came up with the concept around 1951.

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A corruption of monopoly with products instead of property, Milton Bradley-produced “Checkout” in 1959. They also did a version for the Acme chain of stores in the USA. a

He is often mistakenly attributed to renowned Kiwi pop artist Dick Frizzell who was a commercial artist in the 1960s and 1970s, but this is incorrect. Frizzell was, however, involved with the iconic Ches and Dale characters, and the fact that he has used Charlie in some of his most famous art works only adds to the confusion.

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Promotional Happy Families set featuring many popular products sold through Four Square stores, New World and CPS stores (Central Provision Stores, Australia); circa 1980. a

Another well-known contemporary artist Mike Weston, who coincidentally partners with Frizzell’s son Otis to produce humorous Kiwiana-inspired works under the moniker Weston-Frizzell, seems to recall hearing that Charlie was “allegedly a knock off of a Santa Monica supermarket character from the fifties called “Freddy Fireside” – of the Fireside Market. Although I’m still looking for evidence” . I myself was also unable to find any information to even hint at this.Today when people think of the brand they definitely think of Charlie beaming at them from shop windows and hoardings so, although a rather overused word -he has definitely become a New Zealand icon (with a few modernised features). Extremely collectable now, original Mr. Four Square cut-out signage old or newish – sells for competitive prices well into the hundreds and sometimes even the thousands.

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Interior of the Dominion Road Four Square store, Auckland, late 1940s. Photo © and courtesy of the estate of George Allen. a

Quite a few different items have been issued to promote the business over the years. Snap and Happy Family card sets were produced featuring their most popular product lines in the late 1950s-early 1960s, and another Happy Families set of 52 cards in around 1980 from which many of my age group will remember all the products – I featured some of them here, here, and here.

Four Square’s warehouse opens  in Southland, 1956.  Image courtesy of the Foodstuffs (NZ) Archive.

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Other fun items to rope in the punters and strengthen allegiance to the business were a puzzle (late 1940s), a board game with Milton Bradley – “Checkout”, around 1959. a highly desirable colouring book “Fine Things of the Future” (1954), calendars (1950s-1960s), a stamp collecting book. Recipe/household hint books such as “Homeways” was published in the late 1960s, and “Take A Tip” of the early 1970s. A cast metal can opener was issued as a complimentary gift to customers.  Very rarely the hard-to-get canisters issued for the Southland Co-op’s general area centennial of 1956 crop up at auction to be bid on feverishly; and not so long ago even a very unusual Four Square chair.

Foodstuff’s former cut-price – now “private” – brand Pam’s started in 1937 with one product; baking powder. Photo courtesy of and © Eriq Quaadgrass, eRIQ on Flickr. a

Icon Products, who partner with Four Square as well as several other brands , currently hold a license for the Cheeky Charlie character, producing aprons, shirts, tea towels and carry bags – which have been marketed through another Foodstuffs enterprise – New World supermarkets – established at the end of 1963 (the same year that Woolworths rolled out their first dedicated food store Food Fair, a New Zealand first at New Lynn).

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This classic version cut-out Cheeky Charlie signage just sold recently for around the $1000 mark or a little over. a

Although significantly less than in their heyday – today Four Square stores in New Zealand remain as 300 plus independent operators as well as a few still dotted about Australia. It is one of very few companies that has ever reversed the usual trans-Tasman power play of brands being foisted on the comparatively tiny country and marketplace of Aotearoa. Even Ozzie brands like the re-tooled IGA still can’t usurp the sheer power in numbers, well – yet, anyway.

A modern store in Waitarere using the classic Four Square colour scheme to the maximum effect; with the newest version of Cheeky Charlie, said to have been “made over” by Dick Frizzell at Foodstuff’s request recently. Photo courtesy of and © Kiwi Frenzy on Flickr. a

Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd is still comprised of three co-ops and has grown to include a slew of chain brands in its portfolio including aforementioned New World, Pak ‘N’ Save (established 1985), Write Price, On The Spot, Shop Rite, Raeward Fresh, Liquorland and Henry’s, Budget, Pam’s, and of course Four Square (and that’s just the food and drink enterprises) making it the largest retail organisation in New Zealand to date.

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Contemporary Four Square store and staff. Photo courtesy of and © the Foodstuffs (NZ) Archive. a

You have to wonder if Barker, whilst scribbling on his calendar absent-mindedly that day, ever in his wildest dreams could have comprehended he was launching an empire worth more than four billion dollars per annum.

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Neither the classic or contemporary version of Mr. Four Square -this was the in-between version with a few new touches in the 1990s-2000s. Photo of Cheeky Charlie on left courtesy of and © emilyandadam on Flickr. Image of modern Four Square logo graphics on right courtesy of and © the Foodstuffs (NZ) Archive. a

The Four Square Contest Poster is available from my online store here , as well as greeting cards for a nominal price.

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