I was reading this really interesting post by Nikhil today and I was astonished by the knowledge that there are people out there like me that collect old 'junk'! I love collecting tins and jars of consumer goods that were made years ago! My fascination with the brands of yore began when I chanced upon an old Ponds bottle in my ancestral home when I was around 15! It was a milk white ceramic bottle with the familiar leaf icon on the label.
As I beheld the bottle I could almost smell the cold cream being applied on my face by my mom or some aunt in my childhood as they got me ready for some function or outing. I held the bottle close, petrified that it may fall and break into pieces shattering my memories with it. Memories of getting ready for the countless palli perunnaals and weddings with all my aunts as they dabbed Ponds cream or Cuticura powder, depending on the type of skin and kohl lined their eyes and drew those long vertical lines as pottus on their foreheads and a dot on my cheek also known as “beauty spot” in Kerala [:p] and adorned their hair with jasmine or a rose from the garden! What a lot of noise, smells and colors and feminine bonding…and memories.
Soon I started noticing a lot of these old bottles and tins of brands that have changed so much over the years that they bear little resemblance to their old selves. Fascinated by their shapes and sizes, I started collecting these old receptacles taking permission from people who owned them and who parted willingly with them, amused at my fascination with the “junk”. I now have a box full of this stuff waiting to be put up at the new shelf in my bedroom as my mom will not have anything of it in the living room!
Recently my uncle told me of a box in the attic of our ancestral house in Kerala and I found a treasure trove of stuff like Himalaya Snow Cream bottles, those colored Vaseline jars, Hair oil bottles ( *ugh* remember those scented hair oils?), old Nivea tins, Navy brand shoe whitening cake tins, old Farex tins with the baby face and colorful bottles with no labels and a whole lot more dating back to almost 50 years! Thank god for the culture of recycling present in those times! I am sure if I comb the huge house I will find more and that is what I will do when I go home next.
You find these stuff in the most unseemly places too!! An even older Farex tin with the red and gold lettering was used to keep Ayurvedic powders wrapped in old issues of Malayala Manorama forgotten and untouched for so many years in an old wooden cupboard somewhere is the deep recesses of the old house!. A typical Kerala country house and kitchen will have many of these remnants of the past. And since both the parents homes have not been renovated for a long time due to their architectural significance, we have thankfully not lost some of these memories bottled inside those old bottles, tins and jars. If you chance upon a relic of those times when consumerism was unknown and a few brands held sway and people identified with a particular brand unlike now, don’t throw them away…keep them as a reminder of a simpler life and simpler times.
Here is a blog devoted to old magazine ads. And here's one I found on old Indian ads that show the products as they were then.