Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Shopkeeper Capitalism - National Party Campaign Poster 1949

 National Party Election Campaign Poster 1949
They won the election, thanks perhaps to the friendly shopkeeper vote. The same rhetoric was abroad in the UK, a young Margaret Thatcher earning her stripes in her father's corner shop so that later in her career she could barrack the British public in the 1980s with her vision of shopkeeper capitalism and misguidedly apply her corner shop principles to government.
Others were more ambivalent about the shopkeeper's role in the community as this postcard from the early 1900s suggests:
The Grocer
You pose for a grocer so swell,
But we're on to you full well;
Your sugar's sand, and second-hand
Is all the stuff you sell.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Beyond The Counter - The Grocery Store

Burridge's Grocery Store, Miramar, Wellington 1948

One of the reasons that grocers and greengrocers (see previous posts) were able to maintain such an orderly arrangement of their wares was to bar the customers from hands-on contact with the merchandise. There was to be no squeezing of the plums and tapping or sounding of the watermelon, not even a caressing of a jar of raspberry jam or even a can of baked beans, thank you very much! 

Hard to imagine that today's customers would tolerate for a minute being separated from their prospective purchases. Counters would be stormed, food riots would ensue if the punters couldn't read the nutrition labels, fondle the packages etc.

I vaguely recall memories as a young child of being in the premises of a store like Burridge's grocery pictured above. Smith's grocery store, I believe it was called - after Mr Smith, of course. It was a Four Square store, I think, a grocery cooperative chain but with individual stores owned by proprietors.

I recall a long counter, not so much light as in Burridge's, the smell of flour and other food items, hardwood floors, and a wooden chair or two next to the counter on the customer's side, presumably for housewives to rest their shopping bag upon or to pop a small child on for a moment or two while groceries were ordered and placed on the counter and the total tabulated. Men in white full length aprons waited upon the customers, mainly housewives. I must have been small because the memory of the counter is that it was high! 

Soon the first supermarket opened down the street and Smith's in a very short time was no more. Fickle customers. The corner dairy across the street, however, survived for decades afterwards because the supermarket didn't keep the "open all hours" schedule of a corner store. Not until a change in the shop trading hours laws occurred in the 1980s, anyway.

 Four Square Jigsaw Puzzle Cover circa 1950s
Some of the groceries offered for sale by Four Square grocery stores in the 1950s. Brands such as Weet Bix, Milo, and Pam's survive down to the present, but the packages are brighter, more alluring, and on-so modern... 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Green Grocers of New Zealand, 1920s - #4

A Chinese family in their green grocer's store, circa 1910s or 1920s. Unidentified.

The images in this short series of green grocer stores underscore the orderliness of the produce, everything stacked in its place, or strung like this row of pineapples above the patrons' and greengrocer's heads.

One wonders how many of the young 'uns in this photo led this business into the next generation. I'd pick all three were and that they passed it on to the next generation.A few of the descendants will, of course, have escaped the kingdom of pineapples and thickets of asparagus.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Green Grocers of New Zealand, 1920s - #3

Green Grocery store interior, circa 1920s, unidentified.

If you look closely you can see you can also buy a man's head to go with your basket of apples! A woman (?) (blurred image) sits behind the counter to the right.

The Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling and the green grocery staff are subtle reminders of the success with which Chinese entrepreneurs developed the retail trade in fruit & vegetables around the globe, including New Zealand. This often extended into a vertically-integrated business enterprise that began in market gardening, extended to processing, and retailing.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Green Grocers of New Zealand, 1920s - #2

Greengrocer store interior, circa 1920s. Unidentified location.

Greengrocer's store interior from the 1920s, bunches of grapes hanging by the hook. The individual grapes appear to be larger than the insipid ones on offer at my local supermarket.

Another apple poster displayed on the back wall - top left corner of photo. Click image for larger view.

Once again store, location, & photographer unidentified.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Green Grocers of New Zealand, 1920s - #1

Interior of greengrocer's (fruit & vegetable) store, circa 1920s

If you click the above image and look closely at the rear wall upper you will see one of the posters promoting fruit listed in recent posts here as well as several others.

Would you like a bottle of fizzy drink to go with your cauli today? Grab one off the rear shelf.

Unfortunately, this store and the photographer are unidentified. Get with it, people! Write important info on the back of your photos for posterity! (Ok, yours truly regularly transgresses on this very point).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Zealand Apples - Patriotic Poster - circa 1930s

New Zealand Apples - Patriotic Poster - circa 1930s

Look, I still don't think you've got the picture: eat more apples, it's the patriotic thing to do. Now be a good Kiwi and eat up! Indeed, it's the right British thing to do! 'nother, apple?!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Gravenstein Apples, The Dessert Apple - Poster - circa 1930s

Gravenstein Apples, The Dessert Apple - Poster - circa 1930s

How about a nice apple pie for pudding? You work on making the pastry, I'll peel, slice and cook the apples.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Buy Your Apples By the Case - Poster - circa 1930s

Buy Your Apples By the Case - Poster - circa 1930s
Look with all the productivity gains made by orchardists and the drop in prices caused by the Great Slump, you need to step up and buy a case of apples. Ask your stationmaster at the local railway station how to order.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Apple & Pear Poster - Ask for Dominion Mark Fruit - circa 1930s

Apple & Pear Poster - Ask for Dominion Mark Fruit - circa 1930s
And it wouldn't hurt you to eat some of that stone fruit from central Otago either...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

 Health poster promoting more fruit in the diet, 1920s, artist Joseph Moran

One of the public health lessons of the First World War was that the nation's young men were not as healthy and fit as the myth of the fighting British race suggested. But they were healthy & fit enough to serve as cannon fodder. In the interwar period, fruit was promoted as a way of improving health and fitness. It didn't hurt that it also sold cases of apples and pears produced by Kiwi growers.

Monday, March 15, 2010

National Patriotic Apple Show 1918 Poster

Poster for National Patriotic Apple Show held in Auckland, May 1918.

You needed more than a case of apples to maintain your health on the battlefields of the Somme, Ypres, Verdun and the like. You were too worried about a fatal case of lead poisoning to give a fig (mixed metaphor) about an apple a day keeping the doctor away. Besides, a fresh apple was likely nowhere to be found.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Arthur Yates & Co - Seed Merchants & Growers - 1882 to 1985

Arthur Yates & Co premises, Queen & High Streets, Auckland, circa 1902. 

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Auckland Provincial District, volume 2, 1902, entry on pp 400-401 (reformatted into shorter paragraphs):

"Yates, Arthur, and Co. (Arthur Yates and Ernest Yates), Wholesale and Retail Seed Merchants and Growers, Queen Street, Auckland. Bankers, Bank of New South Wales. Cable address, “Seedsman, Auckland.” Head establishment, Mr. Samuel Yates, 75 Shudehill Street, Manchester; Australian branch, 237 Sussex Street, Sydney, New South Wales, established 1887.

This well-known business was first established by Mr. Samuel Yates in 1826, and is now one of the largest businesses of its kind in England.

The Auckland branch was established in 1882, and to such an extent has the business grown that it has been found necessary to extend the premises, which now consist of a large three-storey warehouse with a thirty-three feet frontage to Queen and High Streets, and a depth of 200 feet, and a total floorage space of over 14,000 square feet. Machinery for seed cleaning has been especially imported from England, and fitted up in the new premises, and the firm claims to hold the largest stock of garden and farm seeds in the Colony.

There are seed farms at Mangere and Papatoitoi under the management of Mr. E. Allan. There are agents of the firm in every town of importance in the Colony, and a complete catalogue of “Yates' Reliable Seeds” can be obtained free from any leading storekeeper, or direct from the head office in Auckland, as well as the firm's other publications, “Yates' Garden Guide,” and “How to Grow Onions for Market.”"

As previous posts suggest, Arthur Yates & Co flourished in the decades following, specializing in seeds for the home gardener. Apparently the family business continued to be profitable in the hands of Arthur Yates' children and grandchildren until such time as it passed from their hands into those of the financial speculators. As Te Ara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand puts it here:

"For 102 years the Arthur Yates seed company supplied seed and garden advice to New Zealand gardeners. Arthur Yates, the founder of the company, was the son and grandson of British seed merchants. His children and grandchildren ran the company profitably until it was taken over by ill-fated investment bank Equiticorp, and went into receivership in 1985."

Not the first time, nor the last, that a main street business was driven into bankruptcy by the speculators and a carefully-tended enterprise was cast off as if dust in the wind.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Calendar Boy - Arthur Yates & Co Calendar Cover 1948

 Arthur Yates & Co Calendar Cover 1948
In an earlier age when most households still relied on home grown fruit and vegetables for a sizable share of their annual food, it was all hands to the garden both out of economic necessity and as social activity. Children were socialized in the arts of plant husbandry - soil preparation, planting, fertilising, watering, weeding, harvesting and the like. Post harvest it was about storing and preserving - bottling, making jam, and the like. If little boys didn't get trained in the kitchen arts in those days they at least got to taste samples and the naturally curious learned enough so they could years later work out how mum used to make all those things.

This old bird recalls empty seed packets of Arthur Yates & Co pierced by pieces of kindling wood at the end of planted rows marking where particular vegetables had been planted. In my neck of the veggie garden between the two apple trees, I remember planting sweet corn because that was something dad didn't plant as well as peas, radishes, and a few other things, expanding to green and chili peppers in later years. And since we lived within earshot of Lancaster Park in Christchurch, I can remember being in the garden and dad, upon hearing a large cheer from the crowd at the Park, declaring: Canterbury must have scored!

Now try to get most youngsters today - beyond the age of the lad pictured above - to tear themselves away from their video games or the mall to get outdoors for awhile let alone into the garden.

Methinks something was lost. And, please, don't try to get me all cheered up by the local food movement, farmers' markets shenanigans and all that. It still has a long, long way to go. Maybe too long a way with not so very much long term commitment from enough people. But you've got to hope - and take action, right?

What did your garden grow?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Calendar Girl - Arthur Yates & Co Calendar Cover 1946

Arthur Yates & Co Calendar Girl, cover, 1946

It was long a marketing custom of many businesses in New Zealand to issue a calendar shortly before year's end to extend season's greetings and generate a measure of goodwill. Sometimes households experienced an embarrassment of riches, quite what would they do with all these calendars? Arthur Yates & Co was one such company that produced an annual calendar, an example of their 1946 calendar cover is pictured above.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Seeds of Things to Come - Arthur Yates & Co Ltd Seed Catalogue 1932

Arthur Yates & Co 1932 garden annual cover

Arthur Yates & Co Ltd Seed Catalogue 1932

Arthur Yates & Co Seed Catalogue for 1932, offering among other things, parsnip, carrot, radish, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, onion, cauliflower, beet, turnip, and swede seeds. 

Never a fan of brassicas, cabbage and cauliflower, let alone turnips and swedes, left me cold as a child. Of course, I was told they were good for me - and I have to admit the medical and scientific evidence seems to be pointing in that direction. Persuade me with science, not with blind faith & "because I told you so's" directing me to eat the stuff!

The advertising copy states that the combined price for the seed packets pictured amounts to 6/- (6 shillings to the whippersnappers among you), equivalent to about NZ$32 in end of 2009 prices according to the handy dandy Reserve Bank of New Zealand calculator found here

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Haere Mai - Maori Theme - Travel Poster - circa 1920s

Haere Mai! Maori theme travel poster from the 1920s

Now if we all got off the grid and used geothermal cooking we might  be able to keep the lake levels higher and abate global warming at the same time. Cooking times may vary.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Tree Fern - Poster - circa 1930s

The Tree Fern - Poster - circa 1930s
Actually, I'm not sure this is a travel poster but nothing says "New Zealand" like a tree fern!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Mint Chicks - New Zealand Band

In the mood for a brief reprise from the vintage travel poster series. It's a Monday morning and I need a gentle stirring of the brain to get going. (Remember shaking causes brain damage and is a definite no, no!). As James Bond said, a brain should be stirred, not shaken. Okay, I took liberties with that quote.

Poster fans we'll be back to fantasyland shortly. hang on.

Self-described as "troublegum pop" or more conventionally experimental noise rock or power pop, The Mint Chicks are a New Zealand band that formed in Auckland in 2001 but are currently based in Portland, Oregon so they are godwits, like yours truly, kuaka. The group consists of Ruban Nielson, Kody Nielson, Paul Roper and Michael Logie.

The Mint Chicks are currently touring New Zealand, most recently performing at a summer series in Albert Park, Auckland on Sunday. For those of us living in exile we'll have to make do with iTunes, YouTube, and The Mint Chicks web site:

More information about them on their web site here and Wiki entry here.

Watching some of the MCs' music video one wonders if their video was inspired in anyway by Len Lye's work, take a look at Hot on Your Heels and Life Will Get Better Some Day. Or perhaps it's just in the Kiwi drinking water. Maybe one of the Nielsons will stop by to confirm or deny ;)

Methinks, Len would approve - and marvel at what now can be done in filmography with digital technology. He might not go for the music, but who knows. More on Len Lye here - a mini-festival of his work on this blog.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sword Fishing - Bay of Islands - New Zealand Railways Travel Poster

Sword Fishing - Bay of Islands - New Zealand Railways Travel Poster

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fly Fishing in New Zealand - M A Poulton - 1936 - Travel Poster

Fly Fishing in New Zealand - M A Poulton - 1936 - Travel Poster, Government Tourist Department.
Click on picture for larger image

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fly Fishing in New Zealand - L C Mitchell, artist - 1935

Woman Fly Fishing in New Zealand - L C Mitchell, artist - 1935, book cover

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Southern Lakes - Lake Wanaka - New Zealand Railways Travel Poster - 1930s

The Southern Lakes, Lake Wanaka, New Zealand Railway,s Travel Poster - 1930s

Fiordland - New Zealand Railways Poster - circa 1930s

Fiordland - New Zealand Railways Poster - circa 1930s
click on image for larger view

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Timaru For Me And You - travel poster - circa 1930s

Timaru For Me And You - travel poster - circa 1930s
Go get the skis, we're off to Caroline Bay one more time. Might need the wet suits as we head into March. Swim between the flags! Oh, don't bother, the lifeguards will have left by now.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rata Blossom - Franz Josef Glacier, Southern Alps - Marcus King poster

 Rata Blossom, Franz Josef Glacier, Southern Alps, artist Marcus King, circa 1930s

Artist Marcus King painted a number of scenes that graced the posters of the New Zealand Railways and NZ Government Tourist Boad in the 1930s. A short biography of King may be found at the Ferner Galleries site here.