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Old-school advertising

June 16, 2011


There’s something rather glorious about these old apples posters. The one on the left is by Edward Cole, painted in the 1930s, and the ones on the right are by Joseph Moran. The artists have a special way of making things glow both from inside and out.

I love old advertising art. I have a collection of seed packets, designed (I think) by Bernard Roundhill. I like how the Te Papa website describes Roundhill’s art:

“Roundhill’s images were more than just product brands. They promoted particular values of wholesomeness, freshness, value-for-money, and self-reliance. Roundhill was reflecting how we saw ourselves during this time – and in that way helped to shape our national identity.”

As you can see, the packets are rather crumpled – my mother-in-law planted them over forty years ago. She was very self-reliant. She bottled fruit, grew vegetables, milked her cow and knitted her four sons jumpers. She was very ill towards the end of her life, but continued to crochet, only putting down her hook and wool when she had finished her funeral shroud.

I also have a collection of old fruit crates I found in the shed of a house I once lived in. Here are a few that I saved:

I am intrigued by how the growers have printed their names on the labels. Who were the Bargiacchi brothers, and what did they think of Lower Hutt, so far away from their native Italy? Obviously they grew grapes and perhaps were one of the first to press them, to turn them into wine. And what about the Ohau tomatoes? Surely it’s too cold to grow tomatoes so far south?

My mother used to buy crates of fruit at the end of summer – usually Golden Queen peaches or plums. Then the bottling process would begin. She’d boil up the jars to sterilise them, and lay their Agee lids across the kitchen table. My mother would slice the fruit, and my parents would take turns minding the syrupy pot on the stove, boiling until the fruit was soft and sweet. They’d pour it into the jars, then screw the lids on tight. Then we’d have stewed fruit on our porridge throughout winter, a taste of summer to come.

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