WORDS BY LUKE ROTHE
Local Barossa history
Last century storekeepers were often challenged as to what complimentary gift to offer their customers at Christmas for another year of their loyalty.
Calendars were the most popular Christmas giveaway, a tradition still practiced by some traders. My earliest local calendar was produced for Payne & Tucker, General Storekeepers at Sedan in 1902. Free calendars were collected in earnest by some local families. On several occasions I have found multiple calendars of the same year – rolled up unused and still surviving 90 years later.
Some calendars were three dimensional works of art, made in Germany from pressed cardboard; with tiny tear off monthly calendar dates. This pressed cardboard style was particularly popular with Tanunda business F.G.C. Wallent, who issued them until the 1960s.
A variety of practical items were given to customers last century. Notebooks, pencils, rulers, thermometers, bottle openers, fans, nickel plated trays – all had a business name and town embossed or printed onto the object, which advertised the business.
I’m sure retailers were keen to see which business gave the best gift. In 1933, A. Simpson & Son in Adelaide took orders state-wide to manufacture tin flour sifters as Christmas gifts. I’m sure there was some dismay amongst retailers because so many of the same flour sifters appeared that year, including local stores Bachmann (Greenock), Schluter (Truro), Muttons (Angaston) and Garretts (Sedan).
Most giveaways were made from cheaper materials of pressed tin, wood or cardboard. P.G.F. Klose, Carrier of Tanunda, must have had a good year when he distributed his wooden cased clocks with a German wind up movement.
Often the gifts represented a business’s activities, such as a car cleaning cloth from Jaensch’s Service Station, Nuriootpa; or a shoe horn stamped J.H.A. Schultz, Boot Store, Tanunda. Sometimes the items were quite obscure, with Graetz’s butcher shop in Nuriootpa giving nail clippers in the 1970’s.
The tradition of Christmas gifts for loyal customers seems to have ended about 1980, when the Nuriootpa Co-op Store stopped offering members their annual tea towel.
However a lasting legacy of gifts can still appear at local garage sales and auctions, advertising businesses that have been closed for decades. The simple words ‘With Compliments’ attest to the Christmas cheer and generosity of past Barossa traders.