Archive for February, 2010

We are the World. We are the Children.

I thought I would add a bit of fun to this blog entry and play a game of guess who with a difference.

Like last week’s blog, I am going to look at cigarette marketing again. This is not because I am endorsing it, but because it keeps throwing up some surprising and rather interesting objects.

This week I am looking at cigarette cards. In the collection at Blackburn Museum is a selection of cigarette card albums. In essence, every time you bought a packet you would find a little card and the aim would be to complete a set. The topics chosen by the manufacturers were extremely varied, for example, British fresh-water fishes, International Air Liners, Foreign birds and Radio celebrities. The one that really excited me though was the collection of ‘Children of the World’. This contained images of children from around the world wearing stereotypical national dress. The ideas and images they displayed would have been common held attitudes on what people in the rest of the world looked and dressed like.

As I said, this is a game of Guess Who with a difference. You have to guess the nationalities of the different children. Remember, that not all are from countries, some are from islands or regions of a country. So lets see how good (or how bad) your prejudices are. Answers at the bottom.

Answers: Top Row – Alaska and Mexico. Middle Row – Holland and France. Bottom Row – North America and Turkey

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Smoke up son, Daddy needs a lawnmower

Smoking is bad. Well, that’s what we are all told. Stop smoking campaings, smokers made to smoke outside.

But it has not always been like that. Smoking was once a right of passage. ‘Ey up lad, How old are you? Smoked your first cigarette yet?’ There was a time when it was a good thing. Almost seen as a form of deep breathing exercise. It was something the whole family would do.

One of the objects within the collection of the Blackburn Museum is a booklet with a list of wonderful gifts you can get from collecting cigarette coupons.Just smoke a pack of cigarettes, cut out the coupon and you were well on your way to getting your hands on something exciting. Gifts were available from collecting as little as 180 certificates (a building block set), 250 certificates (patterned hand towel) or even 100 certificates (Turned brass darts).

One of the first things you notice in the catalogue are the images. Men are found walking around with wheelbarrows and lawnmowers while women are shown ironing and looking dreamily at blenders.

Now, if you had 1650 certificates you would be in a deep dilemma. You would have to make a choice between the quilted nylon dressing gown or the foldaway step ladder as shown in the above picture. Unfortunately, pink is not my colour otherwise I would have chosen the dressign gown but you can register which you prefer in the poll at the bottom of the blog.

If you enjoy a puff more than the average man, and have collected almost 3000 certificates, you could buy yourself a lawnmower. Should you be a doting dad, however, you could instead get a cycle for your son and dress him in short shorts and socks and sandals. Awesome!

Just for those of you that are curious. The most ‘expensive’ item in the brochure is a rather dull all electric foldaway cooker for 12,000 certificates.

VHS or Betamax? Beatles or the Stones? Zephyr or Zodiac?

The Ford Zephyr Zodiac

VHS or Betamax? Beatles or the Rolling Stones? Take That or Boyzone? Ford Zephyr or Ford Zodiac?

Ok, I may be overstating the last one a bit, but for some this was a serious debate. There would have been many a playground argument as to which you preferred. But now I bring a solution. How about the Ford Zephyr Zodiac?

You are probably wondering why I am wittering on about this car. Well, it all started a few weeks ago while I was reading the Spring 1954 edition of Lancashire Life. I was not at the dentist but actually researching some articles. This particular edition has articles on famous lancastrians Kathleen Ferrier and Jessica Lofthouse. At the back I noticed a review of the Ford Zephyr Zodiac which caught my eye especially as the reviewer had some interesting ways of testing the car!

He starts by testing the handling and proclaiming that he ‘only let the speedometer fall below fifty when safety for other road users dictated it’. Surprisingly, for such a big car it only had three gears! No problem for our man though who found that ‘one can drop to five miles per hour on quite steep hills in [third] gear and then accelerate without a shudder…and 63 m.p.h. was possible in second without any undue strain’. The brakes also met with the seal of approval after he decided ‘to slam the brakes on at 80 m.p.h. as hard as possible, on a wet road, without any ill effect.’

My favourite part of the review has to be his opinion on some of the new gadgets included in the car. These include a windscreen washer, cigar lighter, reversing light and clock.

But what was his highlight of the car? This would be the novel trafficators which flash on mounted side lights to indicate which way you were turning which helpfully ‘also [had] a novel ticking noise when the signals are operating and a warning light on the instrument panel.’

With this review in mind, would I go for a Zephyr, a Zodiac or a Zephyr Zodiac? To be honest, if it has a two-toned body and white walled tires I really couldn’t care.

Hello all!

Welcome to the new Blackburn Museum blog. I’m Vinai and I will be your guide around the curious, amusing and downright odd objects hidden in the depths of the museum. This blog is meant to be light hearted and fun so please feel free to join in and add your comments. If your really interested why not pop in and see the museum for yourself.

Please note: the opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the owner and not of the council or museum. Any comments found to be rude or offensive will be removed.


Blackburn Museum can be found in Blackburn, Lancashire. It houses objects documenting Blackburn's industrial past as well as a world class collection of Fine Art, Japanese prints, Icons, Numismatics and Manuscripts. Come and visit us to find out more.

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