Es­sex His­tory

Han­nah Sal­is­bury from the Es­sex Record Of­fice looks back 100 years to dis­cover sea­sonal ad­ver­tise­ments of yes­ter­year, promis­ing the per­fect Christ­mas

Essex Life - - CONTENTS -

Find­ing the per­fect Christ­mas of yes­ter­year

What makes Christ­mas, Christ­mas? And how has this changed over the years?

Delv­ing into 100-year-old news­pa­pers at the Es­sex Record Of­fice, we find some sur­pris­ing things. Then, as now, news­pa­pers were packed with ad­verts for food, drink, gifts, cloth­ing and even fur­ni­ture, which read­ers were en­cour­aged to pur­chase for the fes­tive sea­son.

So what was be­ing mar­keted to our an­ces­tors as the per­fect Christ­mas present? Be­fore the days of mu­sic down­loads and stream­ing, one ideal gift be­ing ad­ver­tised in Es­sex was a gramo­phone. Walker’s Mu­sic Ware­house in Clac­ton ad­ver­tised their gramo­phones as, ‘A most suit­able and last­ing present for the Fes­tive Sea­son’, and promised the ma­chines would bring, ‘to the home ab­so­lutely the very best vo­cal­ists and in­stru­men­tal­ists procur­able’. Prices be­gan at 34s (about £130 in to­day’s money), and went up to 12 Guineas (about £980 to­day).

Large depart­ment stores of­fered a huge range of con­sumer goods, such as those ad­ver­tised by JR Roberts in Strat­ford in the run up to Christ­mas 1911. For chil­dren, there were books and toys, such as dolls’ houses or toy trams. For ladies there were silk and lace blouses, fur wraps and muffs, hand­bags and wool and kid gloves. Men seem to have got the raw end of the deal, with only hand­ker­chiefs be­ing men­tioned in this par­tic­u­lar ad­vert as gifts

for men. Cus­tomers could or­der by post, and Roberts of­fered free de­liv­ery to any ad­dress within 20 miles of the shop or on or­ders of over 5 shillings.

If after a trip to Roberts you were still in doubt as to what to get for the lady in your life, JG Bond Ltd in Chelms­ford had the per­fect an­swer in the shape of ‘Baker’s Cel­e­brated Chelms­ford Laven­der Wa­ter’.

After presents had been cho­sen, what did shops sug­gest peo­ple might pur­chase to eat and drink over the fes­tive sea­son? The Clac­ton Stores on 22 Pier Av­enue of­fered a huge range of lux­ury food items, from Sea­ger’s Best Sausages to Stil­ton and Ro­que­fort, plus every­thing needed to make and dec­o­rate a Christ­mas cake. Also avail­able were crys­tallised fruit sweets and ‘Fancy Boxes of Choco­lates’. To drink, the Chelms­ford Chron­i­cle ad­ver­tised Glen Spey Whiskey, made from finest bar­ley malt, and Gil­bey’s In­valid Port, a ‘Pure Health-giv­ing Wine’.

While ad­verts abound for lux­ury, or ‘fancy’, items, there were also plenty of ad­verts for more prac­ti­cal gifts. 100 years ago, peo­ple were get­ting ready for the first peace time Christ­mas in five years. While lux­ury goods were still avail­able, there were more ad­verts such as the one from Bol­ing­broke & Sons Ltd in Chelms­ford, pro­mot­ing ‘use­ful and moder­ate’ presents, ‘the very thing for this mem­o­rable Yule Tide’.

‘While ad­verts abound for lux­ury, or ‘fancy’, items, there were also plenty of ad­verts for more prac­ti­cal gifts’

ABOVE: Chelms­ford Laven­der Wa­ter is ad­ver­tised in the Chelms­ford Chron­i­cle on De­cem­ber 15, 1911LEFT:Glen Spey Whiskey and In­valid Port, a spe­cial Christ­mas tip­ple to be en­joyed, as seen in the Chelms­ford Chron­i­cle on De­cem­ber 15, 1911

ABOVE: Christ­mas presents at JR Roberts’ Stores in Strat­ford, fea­tured in the Chelms­ford Chron­i­cle on De­cem­ber 15, 1911 ABOVE RIGHT: Bol­ing­broke & Sons pro­mote a peace-time Christ­mas in the Chelms­ford Chron­i­cle on De­cem­ber 20, 1918 The Clac­ton Stores of­fers fine pro­duce via the Clac­ton Graphic on De­cem­ber 16, 1911

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