Retro Sunday: Ads from the 1930 Child’s Own Annual

As promised, some of the interesting (and, to modern eyes, occasionally odd/bewildering) ads from the 1930 (my best guess) Child’s Own Annual.

What strikes me most is that, though the annual was clearly intended to be read by children, the ads are very clearly intended only for grown-ups: there’s very little here that’s going to tempt a child to say, “Please buy that for me, Mommy!”

Case in point:


This is proof…sorry, “Prufe”…of, if nothing else, the fact that “quotation marks” have been “randomly applied” to “ad copy” for “generations.”

And remember: only the Empire’s finest Pure Wool is used!

(Funny thing: right up until…well, now…I read that as “Childprufe,” not “Chilprufe.” I actually think “child proof” underwear would be an even bigger seller…)

Several of the ads have to do with foodstuffs. For instance:


Not quite sure that the makers of Ovaltine meant to imply that imbibing their product would cause your hips to swell into the shape of a hot-air balloon, but that’s what I get out of the ad.

Then there’s this one:

Chivers Jellies

Just add hot water to a Chivers’ Jelly tablet and create a dessert that not only looks good and tastes good but is really good…unlike all those desserts that look good and taste good but are really bad. (Because they actually contain something more than sugar, glycerin, and artificial color?)

Here’s another:

Nestles Milk

The children liked it better than cakes? Really? Condensed milk smeared on bread, better than cake? I’d like to see your double-blind study on that, Nestle.

Perhaps the bread was this:

Bermaline Bread

They love it so much they eat it “slice after slice after slice.” They love it so much that Mary is clearly prepared to tear John’s arm from his socket and beat him over the head with it until he releases his death grip on the complete loaf he intends to hog for himself. Just what horrendously addictive compound were the Bermaline folks using in their bread? Crack?

Still, I’d have to admit bread and milk, whether Bermaline and Nestle’s or some other combination, would probably sound good to me, too, if my initial introduction to solid food as a child had been:

Malted Rusks

Malted Rusks! Yum!

The baby is…alarming. The gratuitous puppy looks slightly deranged.

Speaking of alarming babies:


Interesting they felt the need to bold the words “though perfectly free from any narcotic,” which certainly implies that there were other teething products that weren’t.

Not quite every ad is focused so drearily on nutrition and underwear. This one actually features a toy:

Babys Present

Versions of this still exist, of course. What I like best about this ad is that little note in the upper left corner: “Used in Royal Nurseries.” I love the image of a tiny future Queen Elizabeth II scooting around on one of these.

Finally, for the perfect stocking stuffer, there’s:

The Pilgrim Bible

Having received more than one Bible as a Christmas present myself growing up, I do not mock the sentiment…but let’s just say they were not the gifts that made me jump up and down with glee upon receiving.

There you have it. A snapshot of England circa 1930. Next week, something else found in the fascinating mini-museum of this old house.

And just for fun, on New Year’s Eve, ask your bartender if he knows how to make  a Malted Rusk.

Permanent link to this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.