As happens from time to time, I am making a short diversion away from the ‘bookish’ posts you will usually find here, to share one of my other pastimes with you.
Yes! I am a not so secret dissectologist – or someone who enjoys jigsaw puzzle assembly.
Clicking on this Amazon link will allow you to magnify individual items, for a closer look at all those 1970s shopping basket memories!
NB. The jigsaw I completed was the 1,000 piece version illustrated above. The only link available for enlargement purposes is for the 250 piece tinned version. All illustrations are identical.
MEMORIES OF THE 1970s – (1970s Shopping Basket)
For many shoppers, the Seventies proved to be an ordeal as they grappled with the reality of decimal coins; the changeover happened in February 1971, and thus the price of a quarter pound of tea went from 1/11d to 9.5p. Two years later, Britain took a leap of faith and joined the European Common Market, and by the end of the decade products had gone metric.
This was a turbulent time economically; an oil crisis and three-day week fuelled inflation which rose for a moment to 25%, and the winter of discontent made housewives wonder whether there would be sugar in the shops.
By the 1970s many familiar brand names were well established. Rice Krispies came to Britain in 1928 and Weetabix in 1932; both Pan Yan Pickle and Horlicks had been on sale since late Victorian times; Twiglets arrived to titillate the taste for cocktails in 1932. Nevertheless, new brands continued to be launched – Alpen set a trend for muesli from 1971 and Country Store followed two years later. Prewett’s whole wheat flakes were quick to mention ‘organically grown’. Pizza in a box began to fill shopping baskets along with Pot Noodle launched in 1977. Fast food retailing began to spread.
No party would be complete without a supply of Watney’s Party Seven or Four, or a slice of Arctic Roll. By the end of the decade, technology had provided pocket calculators and digital watches, video recording machines and portable VHS home video systems, plus TV games.
This evocative and nostalgic series of jigsaws illustrate the changing contents of the shopping basket in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The changing face of familiar brands can be seen, along with the products that have come and gone. Whatever our age, they have played a part in our lives – and our memories.
The items that make up these jigsaws come from the Robert Opie Collection, which is housed at the Museum of Brands in London’s Notting Hill and the Museum of Memories in Weston-Super-Mare. Having saved the packaging and promotional materials around him since he was at school, Robert Opie gathered together the earlier story of mass manufacture from many sources.
In 1975 he held an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and then in 1984 founded Britain’s first museum devoted to the story of our consumer society.
The displays give a sense of the evolving culture and lifestyle since Victorian times, represented through the everyday items that we all take for granted – from motor cars, telephones, holidays and entertainment, to all manner of branded groceries, sweets and household goods.
The collection traces the changes in social taste and tempo, the whims of style and fashion, the advent of aviation, the jazz age and the gradual emancipation of women. It’s through the fabric of daily living – the song sheets, toys, souvenirs, postcards, magazines and posters – that the rich tapestry of the British way of life is woven together.
In 1903, Harry Gibson managed to obtain an unsecured loan of £500 from the Royal Bank of Scotland in Bishopsgate, London. This generous sum enabled him to start a business, which at that time was called The International Card Co. Trading from offices in Aldersgate Street, he supplied retailers with a range of products including card games and postcards; an unlikely combination these days, but back then, most towns would have a number of stationers in the High Street and they became Harry Percy’s first customers.
The International Card business was sold to the De La Rue Company and H. P. Gibson & Sons Limited was formed in 1919. The International Series brand continued to be used on some products right up to the early 1980s, but H P Gibson & Sons Ltd made its name with the ‘HPG’ brand of indoor games, with old favourites such as L’Attaque and Dover Patrol; huge sellers before and after the Second World War. Sadly the company’s premises, along with all its manufacturing equipment were destroyed during the Blitz in 1940 and when the war ended, it was almost a case of starting from scratch.
Robert and Harry Gibson, sons of the founder, re-established trading from Barrett Street in London’s West End. The company continued to sell its own family games and pastimes, alongside ranges from other established names, including Waddingtons and Chad Valley. 1966 Harry Percy’s grandson, Michael Gibson joined the family business. He remembers his father paying him £11.00 a week out of which he had to pay his mother living expenses. In the late 70s H P Gibson & Sons shortened its name to ‘Gibsons’, and shortly after, in the early 80s, Gibsons introduced their first jigsaw puzzles.
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1970s Shopping Basket, like so many of my jigsaws, was a charity shop purchase, from Dorothy House Hospice shop in Warminster, Wiltshire, where I volunteer.
Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article promoting Gibsons puzzles.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a purchase, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from person to person. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract 5 out of 5 stars.