Cup and saucer, 'Bourn-Vita', earthenware, used at Turner's Confectionary Shop, Mosman, made by Wedgwood, England, 1933-1938
The Bourn-Vita cup and saucer set document the retail activities of a suburban confectionary shop located in Mosman from 1929 to 1938. Its significance comes from its production as a promotional piece of crockery. It reveals the rivalry and considerable competition that existed amongst manufacturers of confectionary and hot beverages, such as Nestle and Cadbury. It also shows the sophisticated marketing techniques which were used to secure and maintain wholesale trade.
Nestle and Cadbury's each promised to promote sales for retailers, and often installed window displays and used other promotions to gain market share. Bryan remembers frequent visits from the Cadbury's window dresser, who created facsimile chocolate bars from large blocks of wood covered in Cadbury wrappers. In the 1930s the main trade journal 'Australasian Confectioner and Soda Fountain Journal' noted that 'the activity of manufacturers in preparing, distributing and installing in shops various types of sales promotion matter [had become] a little too intense' (June 1935).
Confectionary and soda shops were a feature of many Australian towns and suburbs by the 1920s. Since the 1800s coffee palaces, oyster saloons, tea rooms, restaurants and cafes had provided food and drink (often alcoholic), for all from the wealthy to the working person in search of a sixpenny cooked lunch. In the 1910s and 1920s, with temperance campaigns gathering momentum, the confectioner and soda shop represented an affordable, fashionable, refreshing and alcohol-free alternative for women, couples and families. As the precursor of the ubiquitous milk bar, they appeared in city centres and flourished in the many suburban shopping precincts erected in the building boom of the 1920s. These shops were important points through which British and the more recent American popular culture were introduced to Australia through the medium of cuisine. The British firm Cadbury held a large section of the market for confectionary and cocoa. While morning and afternoon teas, biscuits and cake were always popular, increasingly American inspired leisure foods such as ice-creams, sodas and sundaes were consumed.
Introduced in September 1933, the Bourn-Vita cup and saucer were made by Wedgwood as a promotional device for Cadbury. A matching plate, jug and sugar basin were also produced from 1934. Cadbury's new chocolate-flavoured beverage Bourn-vita was launched in Australia in 1932, or soon afterwards.
Turner's Confectionary Shop was located at 884 Military Road, Mosman. The shop opened in June 1927, when son Bryan was only 18 months old. Bryan Turner's earliest memory is of being carried into his parent's shop. In the 1920s and 1930s Military Road was a bustling retail area. The Turner's shop offered a mix of eat-in and take-away refreshments, such as ice-cream sundaes, sodas and milkshakes as well as cigarettes and tobacco, to local shoppers and day-trippers.
Cadbury launched their new chocolate-flavoured beverage Bournvita in England in 1932. It was made from malt extracted from barley, full-cream milk, cocoa and eggs. Cadbury was Australia's best-selling chocolate from the 1920s so it likely that Bournvita was also launched in Australia in 1932 or soon afterwards. Although known as Bournvita in England, the Australian set was printed Bourn-vita.
Bryan remembers first seeing the Bourn-vita cup at the Royal Easter Show. Soon afterwards his family were given or purchased from Cadbury's several presentation cup and saucer sets to use in the shop. The crockery was most likely issued as a promotional device to launch the new drink.
Bryan remembers the 'best quality' chocolates displayed at the shop counter and on shelves behind. Cadbury chocolate displays were installed in the window by sales representatives. Customers could buy a wrapped chocolate bar or a bag of confectionary weighed out on a counter scale. The counter housed the carbonator for the soda fountain. It sat next to the Nizer refrigeration unit, which kept the Peters ice-cream cold. The shop's six tables catered for morning and afternoon teas. Milk coffee made from coffee essence, ice-creams, ice-cream sundaes and sodas were also available. The occasional cooked evening meal was prepared for the usherettes from the local cinema the Kinema Theatre.
Like many shop families the Turner's lived above their premises. At four years old Bryan was already helping to clean the windows and floors. On Sundays Bryan and his brother kept watch for policemen as his parents surreptitiously opened the shop despite the ban on Sunday trading. The Turner's ran the shop with the help of two live-in female shop assistants. When Bryan was 12 his father left. His mother found it difficult to continue the business on her own, and six months later decided to sell. In May 1938 the business was sold to a Mr Lambert, and the family moved to Collaroy. Bryan's mother kept a small collection of items from the shop, including this cup and saucer set. Bryan kept the items until donating them to the Museum in 2004.