Dicky Bird crackers
This box once housed a dozen ‘Dicky Bird” Crackers, and probably dates from the late 40s or early 1950s. I like the interwoven design of streamers on the lid, and the erratic lettering. It’s letterpress printed on a typical (for the period) grained paper in three solid colours. We’re used to warning notices on packaging today but “contents partly foreign” is one which has long since disappeared in favour of “designed in England, manufactured in China.”
The Neilson’s logo I recall on Ice Cream vans in the Sixties, and seems to have been a Canadian company which expanded into the UK for a time. Neilson’s Festive Crackers were taken over by Tom Smiths (the firm who invented the cracker) some time in the Fifties.
The crackers themselves disappeared off a dining room table Sixty years or more ago.
Sharps Fancy Goods
Manufactured by Fancygoods (Derby) Ltd., a credit you won’t see on anything anymore. This thick stapled card box once housed nine glass tree decorations and has a late Forties feel about the typography and illustrations. Apart from the glued-on label, the box is unadorned and was intended for sale to shops, who would then retail the decorations individually, but this very sturdy box has again long outlasted the contents. Most glass decorations were imported from specialist makers in Czechoslovakia and Germany (there are still a number of traditional glass decoration firms going strong in the German town of Lauscha where they were invented), but clearly some British firms had a go for a time.
Harrods Toy Fair
Another thick brown card box, which seems to be from the early years of the twentieth century. It’s a generic design made to hold loose goods sold to Harrods customers, probably when they were sent out via post. It’s interesting that with internet shopping the use of strong packaging kike this has come round again a century on. This one has an advert for the Harrods post-Christmas toy fair on which I like.
This one is hard to date, but I would imagine just pre or post WW2 from the construction and materials. It has no label or text on, so looks to be a generic Christmas box wholesaled to retailers, and being quite shallow may have been for small items of clothing or haberdashery. The cheery looking santa illustration is augmented by sprigs of holly and mistletoe.
It’s easy to feel guilty about ready made food these days, and imagine everything was slaved over in a steamy kitchen in previous decades. Yet ready made Christmas Cakes have been around for a century at least, though clearly only a certain class would have been able to afford the more elaborate offerings.
This cake from Jacobs, “a decorated rich dark fruit cake with almond paste, iced all over,” was quite pricey at 17/6d even in the late Fifties. I assume it must have been circular, hence the Snowball name. The Jacobs brand itself is still around of course, albeit now owned by United Biscuits, although the Liverpool factory where this cake was made is still around.
But if the cake has long gone, the sturdy box enjoyed a lengthy afterlife storing who knows what until I picked it up in a junk shop, albeit it for six times what it originally cost.