Sunday, April 26, 2009

Box Collection!

In olden days, most of the products came to the consumer from the manufacturer either in wooden containers or tin boxes or tin cans. Plastic was not an item in the dictionary before the 1950s, though celluloid had been discovered in the late 19th century. Those were not "use and throw days" for sure. Any container that reached the consumer found a further use after the intended product reached him. So the container stayed along in shelves. In the kitchen, there was the familiar sight of lined up tin cans of Ovaltine, Threptin or Bournvita or any such suitable can with durable air-tight lids to keep the daily needed sugar, dhals, coffee powder, etc. Crystal salt could not be stored in them but in a porcelain jar. Tin cans were safer than glass in terms of handling in the kitchen. The sound of closing back the tin lids by tapping was unique! Opening them required a sharp finger nail or a handle of a spoon.

The tin cans never rusted because they were handled everyday. I have none to show because, see-through PET containers have long replaced them and revolutionized kitchen storage.

Many items/products were sold/presented by the manufacturer in attractive boxes/containers. We have with us at home some such. Some are in poor condition due to neglect and non-usage (of course, the attic!) while some got stored in cleaner surroundings and in occasional use. Also remember, that was a cleaner atmosphere in the olden days with less garbage/waste production from homes - deadly plastic now forms a major share in pollution!

I'm not a collector, but showing just a collection - rather 'accumulation'! Random order with short descriptions are given. Their period of arrival mentioned are only guesstimates. I've added a caption wherever necessary in the pictures themselves.

Click on them to view larger images.

Read the cap of Welcome Chemical Works - Over 270 highest awards. Period not known.

4 ounces of Soluble Cocoa from Holland.

Etonia Handkerchiefs perhaps of the 20s.
Confectionery boxes which were mostly gifts for our birthdays - 60s, 70s.

Sandal Soap - must be from 30s.

Pears Soap Box of the 50s guess, still glittering - was my aunt's favourite.

Himalaya Bouquet Toilet Powder for 'natural loveliness'! 1950s.

1920s' needle cases. Observe the design of the one on the extreme left. Centre case has a hole to take out a needle.

Tiny coloured leads for pencils were kept in this -30s.

No one in the family was a smoker. I wonder how this Cigar box from Spencer's came and stayed since probably 30s.
Parle Sweets - 40s or 50s.

"Afternoon Tea" from Britannia Biscuit Co. Ltd. They already had factories in 3 cities! This must be from 1920s or thereabouts.

This is a 1960s box gifted by my maternal uncle. Beautiful pictures on it.

1950s again... Lipton Tea had this offer for a period of time. Lovely "Jewel Casket" they called it.

We hated the contents of this as children in the 60s. De-worming tablets!

Another confectionery box from the 60s in my guess.

This may abe of the 40s in my estimate going by the caption of the picture there on this Octagonal Morton's Box.

My grandfather was a sportsman who also played Tennis and Golf. Those two above are two cans that held 3 golf balls each. The left one is a cardboard box and the other is of aluminium from the reputed Dunlop. This should be of the 50s. The one below is a can of tennis balls from Dunlop again, probably of the 40s.

My grandfather had owned a car for some time but sold off because he found it difficult to maintain it. 1940s or thereabouts. The car left him but the empty cans of motor oil and gear oil have stayed back. In fact, the white and red can had half a can of oil!! Smell of the oil was very very odd. Unbearable. I tried to use it for my kerosene lamps by mixing part of it but it never succeeded. This old oil never seemed to burn properly - probably it loses combustibility on storage. The flame never burned satisfactorily while giving that odd smell on burning.

The above yellow can from Shell has been reshaped by a smithy.

Nobody smoked in the family. Yet, this lovely box of State Express 555 now holds my watch-repairing screw drivers.

Viceroy Cigarettes again.

This is my favourite, Threptin biscuit box of plastic that held four Compact Discs -- biscuit discs!

Spring Dumb-bell box. Print is all but little gone. We can read "Edward VII", "Bell"... and can see a part of the 'Sandow's hand'. Belonged to my great grandfather and when 19th century turned into 20th.

Shalimar Biscuits ... enriched with vitamins, butter crisper says the bottom of the box that also held another pair of dumb-bells. This is in very bad shape.

This is the earlier original box now with its real content.

Mellin's Food Biscuit box.

Cardboard box of Mysore Banians, manufactured by the renown K.R.Mills.  Note the price of one banian - one rupee and sixtyfive paise.  This must be from the 1960s.

This is a Panama Cigarette box, probably gifted by the company with some packs as a special limited offer. Lovely plastic. 

Some are rusty and are on the way out, finally. It is very difficult to dispose off junk. The moment the hand picks an item up, the mind drags it back -suddenly it looks attractive!


jothi's jottings said...

Nice collection, I must say. Your instinct to preserve all those oldy things is something that is got to be appreciated. It brings all the forgotten memories rushing to the fore. Thank you for reviving them.

Indrani said...

Some of those tin boxes reminded me of my chocolate dabbas.

ravi said...

Hmm... was any of your ancestors asthmatic?

I recently learnt that my great-grandfather(He was a teacher in Maharaja Collegiate High School, Central College, later Sanskrit Pathshala and an Asthana Vidwan) who was also a non-smoker used have smoke from cigars blown at him, supposedly to give relief to the asthmatic attack.

Didn't your house have Afghan Snow Box?

Dinakar KR said...

Afghan snow! I think we had but don't remember vividly. There was one cough lozenges my grandfather occasionally used to have - "Sucrets" - the smell of which I still can recall. It had a nice fits-in-the-palm size rectangular tin box. None remain. So are those "Ovaltine", "Bournvita", "Threptin" tins with lids. They have all been used to the hilt before disposing off. Sometimes the lids would become loose and that was a disqualification. BTW, I wonder why ants did not bother too much as it does now. I read somewhere that their increase has a connection with global warming.

Ravi who? There are so many Ravis. Would you come back and identify yourself, please?

GW said...

Those hand weights containing springs are very interesting; I've never seen anything like them. They served a dual purpose, then, strengthening the hands along with the arms. I, too, love old tins. I don't have many that are antique, but those I have I cherish. I'll have to take photos of them.


Such a nice collection - so good that you saved them.

girish nikam said...

extraordinary collection dinu, only you, a lover of "junk", could have done this. Those who have not been to Dinu's house, i would suggest a visit, to see many many more such extraordinary talent and passion of this great cricketer-amateur homeopath--collector of trivia--and converter of it to useful material---gardener par excellence---radio, watch repairer- it just goes on and on. Above all a great human being, with no malice towards none. A very very previous friend of mine.

Chennai Belly said...

In my grandfather's house, there is still a cupboard made out of rosewood, polished and intact, which has the words "Ask for Mellin's Food Biscuits" engraved on the glass panels. The cupboard was used to store tins of Mellin's Food products at one time and is one of the earliest displays of in-store advertising that I can point towards. We bought the cupboard from the old Jewish general stores called Koder and Sons when they dismantled.