Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Advertisement 4 - 1932 Diary

Here we have the “1932 New Zealand Rough Diary”. Don’t ask me what a “Rough Diary” is, it seems to be a reasonably normal sort of large desk diary to me. No idea what the “Rough” bit means. Somewhat larger than A4 size, it has stiff cardboard front and back covers, is printed 1 week per page, with a blank pink page in between every printed weekly page. I bought this diary in an online auction because it contained advertisements for pens and pencils. I’m very pleased with the ads, they are great, but I got so much more than I bargained for. Despite the seller being in a small provincial city about a 6 hour drive away, the diary entries clearly indicate the original owner lived right here in my neighbourhood. Furthermore the diary has 27 pages chock full of old time information. As well as the usual yearly calendar with sunrise, sunset and phases of the moon, we have various “ready-reckoner” tables like the ‘Lamb & Sheep Table’ used ‘To ascertain the value of lambs per head at a given price per pound’. This was back in the days of pounds, shillings & pence, before decimal currency, so working things out was a bit complicated. However, I now know that if my lamb weighed 34 pounds and was worth 7 and 5/8 pennies per pound, then overall my lamb would fetch 21 shillings 7 and ¼ pence down at the local saleyards.

The ‘Wage or Income Table’ tells me that if I earned 8 and ¼ pennies per day, then that was 4 shillings 10 and ¼ pence per week, or 1 pound 1 shilling per month, or 12 pound 12 shillings per year.

This diary is from 1932, when the Great Depression was still in force, and money was tight. You can see that many of the pages were used over again by changing the year – with a pencil of course! The many pages of the Legal Information section advise the reader that “The Unemployment Act, 1930, is designed to meet the unemployment problem, which, as in other countries, has grown rapidly and beyond the power of our charitable relief organisations to deal with.” Later we read “The Mental Defectives Amendment Act, 1928, has effected certain reforms in the law”. Amongst these various reforms are regulations that “The supply of intoxicating liquor to mentally defective persons, except on the advice of a medical practitioner, is made an offence”.

Much detail is also given on the registering of births, deaths and marriages; and the methods of “Legitimation” of any child born before the marriage of his or her parents. The phrase “carnal knowledge” gets used rather frequently.

The large Government section of the diary lists all the various government departments and offices, etc. I scanned the list of the Members of Parliament for names I knew. There were a few, including “Fraser, P.” As a young radical militant socialist, Fraser was imprisoned in World War 1 for opposing compulsory military conscription. In World War 2, Fraser had risen to be Prime Minister of New Zealand and as an opponent of fascism would introduce compulsory military conscription. Just a little bit of a U-turn!

Anyway, this diary is a great little glimpse back in time for a person like me with an interest in history, but enough of that, this is a pencil blog!

In the diary there are several advertisements related to writing - full page ads for ‘Onoto’ pens, for ‘Swan’ ink, for ‘Eversharp’ pencils, for ‘Multyplex’ typewriter ribbons, for ‘Multyform’ typewriter carbon paper, and lastly for the ‘Leada Loose Leaf Ledger’. I’m only going to feature two of these – the Onoto and the Eversharp ads.

First up then is the Onoto advertisement. Now I’m no expert, but a quick browse of some fountain pen sites implies that Onoto de la Rue were one of the serious heavyweight prestige brands of their day, arguably the most prestigious of the British manufacturers. I’ve actually got one or two of their pencils so I will have to dig them out sometime soon and post a photo or two.

The advertisement proclaims Onoto the British Pen as “…the finest pen the world has ever seen…”. This pen is advertised at a price of 32 shillings and 6 pence, which I believe is a little less than 1 weeks “average wage” for the time period. I’ll leave you to work out the comparison with todays average wage and the pricing of Mont Blanc and other premium pens.

This image is full resolution so you can click on it to expand and read the full text.
Sorry - some Blogger "known issue" is preventing me from uploading a full resolution photo.


Anonymous said...

A fascinating piece of history.

Anonymous said...

You don't happen to have one of those pens, do you?

Kiwi-d said...

Hello Roi
No, I don't have a pen by Onoto, but I do have two pencils. Onoto pens command a premium price, even in this far flung corner of the old Empire. I have bid on a couple of pen & pencil sets on local NZ-only auctions, but even US $200 wasn't enough. Pencils by themselves are rather rare, but somewhat more affordable.

Actually, it is rather poor practice to have not put up a picture or something of my Onoto pencils with this advert, so I shall try to rectify this shortly.