Saturday, August 2, 2014

Sepia Saturday 239: Saturday 2 August 2014

Alan from Sepia Saturday says:

"Our theme image this week is a 1906 picture postcard which has the provocative caption "Proverbs : A girl unemployed is thinking of mischief". There are all sorts of directions you can take this theme in : there are postcards themselves, there are proverbs and there are men falling fast asleep whilst reading their newspapers. You can wander down the path that leads to the assumption that Edwardian women had little to do other than maintain a home, raise the children, and probably take in washing as well. Or you can always explore the fact that within ten years of this picture being published, women were maintaining the basic industries of many of the leading industrial nations. "

When I put "mischief" in as a search term on Flickr Commons the following images were some of the results of the search.

These images are from Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums collection.  The image descriptions advised the following:

"Wright’s Biscuits was a well known company in South Shields, South Tyneside. Set up as a maker of biscuits, they started out by supplying their stock to ships in 1790, but after a fall in demand, Wright's turned to making more up-market biscuits. Wright's Biscuit factory closed in 1973.

Turners was established in Newcastle upon Tyne in the early 1900s. It was originally a chemists shop but in 1938 become a photographic dealer. Turners went on to become a prominent photographic and video production company in the North East of England. They had 3 shops in Newcastle city centre, in Pink Lane, Blackett Street and Eldon Square. Turners photographic business closed in the 1990s."

I had never heard of Wright's Biscuits before, although I am sure the name will ring bells for many readers of Sepia Saturday.  At first these images reminded me of when I was fortunate enough to work on an ABC educational show for children about science called Finders Seekers.  We were obliged to film, much against our will of course, at the Arnotts biscuit factory which was right near Brisbane City on Coronation Drive at Milton before it moved to Virginia.  I can still remember the smell of freshly baked Iced Vo Vos and eating one straight off the production line.  Bliss!  You can read more about the history of Arnotts here on their website.
And for those of you not familiar with Iced Vo Vos, here's what they look like.  Image is courtesy of snail on Flickr.

Yes, that's a strip of raspberry jam down the middle with marshmallow on either side sprinkled in coconut. Really best eaten freshly baked and still warm...sigh.

This is one of those posts that seems to have synchronicity at every point.  Wright's Biscuits was from South Tyneside, near Newcastle upon Tyne yes?  And Arnotts in Australia was founded at Newcastle north of Sydney (where my great-aunt and her husband incidentally also had a bakery called Wingfields).

I think the Arnotts trucks were much more dashing than the Wrights trucks, don't you?

And here are some lovely ladies waiting to offer you a treat at an exhibit.

Here's a picture of a window display of Arnott's Biscuits in Burns Store South Brisbane circa 1937 courtesy of the State Library of Queensland.

A packed of Iced Vo Vos cost 9pence then.  Today they cost $2 a packet.  

Then my brain must have really been working overtime on subconscious associations because I remembered this postcard in my grandfather's collection.

And here's the back of the postcard...

It says:

"English as she am spoken at the age of two & a bit!  Dear Daddy Tom, I's habing a lubly time wif Mummy Kitty at the beach, habing a fimmy fim (baby talk for swimmy swim) & do you know the latest, Barba hab a toof brush.  Uccer (Uncle) Bill got a fishy nine pounds in weight "so they told me" what do you fink Daddy?  Lub from Barba x."

My mother was born at the end of 1935 so I am guessing that this postcard is dated mid 1938.
It was written by Kit McLoughlin (nee Forfar) to her husband Tom McLoughlin presumably while she was visiting her twin sister Belle and her husband Bill Wingfield.

And do you see what I see?  The artist on the postcard that my grandmother sent to my grandmother is by Mabel Lucie Attwell.  And who is the artist on the Wright's Biscuit ad?  None other than Mabel Lucie Attwell.  I thought I recognised those cheeks!

You can read more about Mabel Lucie Attwell here and here.

It looks like Wrights biscuits were exported far and wide judging from the third photo with boxes addressed to Rangoon and Hamburg.  Arnotts biscuits have been very popular overseas too.  I believe Tim Tams first took Israel by storm followed swiftly by the UK and Canada and now China.  

What's your favourite biscuit?  For more mischief, check out other contributions to Sepia Saturday this week.


diane b said...

Great post.

Alex Daw said...

Thanks Diane - it was fun to research.

Little Nell said...

A packed post with much to munch! I’ve never heard of Iced Vo-vos before but I’ll take your word for it about them being best eaten freshly baked.

Wendy said...

Oh this was fun - biscuits and trucks and chubby cheeks and funny writing on post cards. Never heard of Iced Vo Vos, but the ingredients sound like something I'd like, probably too much.

Jackie Mc Guinness said...

I agree, Alex, it looks very similar to my postcard I posted this week. I'm off to see if I can find out anything more about it.

La Nightingail said...

A cleverly connected post. But OMG, I can't imagine working in a cookie/biscuit factory - seeing & smelling all those cookies every day. I'd go mad! My favorites are soft peanut butter cookies with a close second being lemon bars.

Anonymous said...

I bought Iced VoVos aa couple of weeks ago to use as a nostalgic talking point for some visitors. Normally I avoid Arnotts Biscuits like the plague as they are no longer Australian owned. I also have a Mabel Lucie Atwell postcard. They have a very distinctive style.

Postcardy said...

I noticed the cheeks looked alike, but didn't know it was the same artist.
I was wondering why it was called a mailing novelty until I noticed the flap. It lookds like there should be something inside.

Alex Daw said...

Thanks Little Nell!

Alex Daw said...

Dear Wendy There was a bit of a panic in this household I can tell you when I thought for a second that they might have discontinued the line. Of course I think that today's Iced Vo Vos seem thinner and smaller than the ones of my youth but I think it is only because I have grown bigger (in so many ways...sigh)

Alex Daw said...

Yay! Let me know how you go.

Alex Daw said...

Ooh I like the sound of those peanut butter cookies. Please send recipe ASAP in a plain brown envelope ;) And yes I think I might like those lemon bars too!

Alex Daw said...

I found some online for sale at Wentworth Falls for about $25 plus postage. My finger hovered over the Pay Now button and then I thought - What are you doing Alex? More stuff? You don't need MORE stuff!

Alex Daw said...

Postcards that is...not Iced Vo Vos!

Alex Daw said...

You are quite right Postcardy. There is a little flap there but there's nothing inside now. Not sure what there would have been - maybe a photo?? I don't know. I thought it might have been like a stand but that didn't work.

Alan Burnett said...

Good gracious, that takes me back. In my youth I worked for a time in a biscuit factory very similar to the one you feature in your post. Even then some of the biscuits were still going out in square metal tins. If tins or boxes were damaged the workers would nibble away at the contents which you would think would put them off biscuits for like. I can attest that it didn't.

Alex Daw said...

That's very heartening news indeed Alan!

Sharon said...

I hadn't heard of Wrights biscuits either but have eaten my share of Arnotts! Yes I agree that the Arnotts trucks is a lot better!