Swizzlemanship

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Last Wednesday went surprisingly well in face of the bitter cold. Thursday on the other hand was a pain in the ass. It was supposed to be slightly warmer but it felt colder, likely due to a stronger wind. I was extra tired after having not slept well the night before. On top of that the bike I was using mysteriously developed a “bump” overnight and then got a flat, or maybe it was the other way around. At least I only went to Rosemont, the section that is only a few minutes away.

I also got a bit caught up again “craving” garbage. I find so much neat stuff on a regular basis that once in a while I inevitably develop a sort of addiction towards finding more. This addiction is a bit easier to deal with in the summer when the weather is nicer and the trash is more plentiful, though it’s an issue then as well.

The problem with the addict mindset is that it puts a lot of energy into something that’s impossible to fulfil. One can never count on making cool finds on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes you can even go weeks without finding something particularly interesting (see: my December 2013). Even working harder is not a guarantee of results. In the end you have to accept that much of the time (if not most of the time) you won’t find jack all, and trying harder or wanting it more doesn’t do anything but make it less fun.

Regardless, when a place provides a nice haul I’ll always try to go back no matter the weather conditions. The place above is where I found the silver wax sealer and old hand-written notes the Thursday previous. There was more out this week. Again, not all of it was particularly exciting but there was a bit of nice stuff, my favourite of which was a folder full of papers that I put into my bag without much thought – the extreme cold makes the process of trash picking a little more instinctual.

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Inside the “folder” (which turned out to be a different piece, shown later) were a bunch of old alcohol-related pamphlets. The publication dates range from the early 1950s to the early 1980s and most are in terrific condition. I also found a bit of drink-related things the week before – it’s pretty clear that whoever owned this had a strong interest in party-planning and “mixology.”

My regular readers know by now that I love old ephemera. Let me show you some of my favourites!

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Many were promotional pamphlets published by drink companies featuring mixes and recipes that people could make using their brand. Most of these I think are from the 1950s with the exception of the Molson which is probably from the 1970s. I was surprised at the age of some of these, for instance the Southern Comfort pamphlet which I first expected to be more modern (it’s from 1958).

For a closer look at the inside of some of these (or if you want to know how to baste a ham with 7-up) click the thumbnail below. The Smirnoff one is a nice blast to the past.

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Here’s a drink menu for the Kon-Tiki polynesian-themed restaurant that used to run out of the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Montreal. It apparently opened in 1959 and has been closed since 1981. Inside is a pretty comprehensive drink list.

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I did a bit of research and found this old photo from inside the restaurant. You can see the same menu I found in the hands of the man on the right. Pretty cool! You can see more Montreal-related Kon-Tiki stuff on this messageboard dedicated to enthusiasts of the Tiki aesthetic.

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The “folder” turned out to be this publication by Toffenetti’s, a restaurant chain that appears to be long defunct. It definitely looks 1950s-y and again features a bunch of their drinks. Unfortunately a little bit has been cut off the top, otherwise this would be more valuable to a collector.

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Here we have pamphlets published by France and Canada promoting their various wines, one by the Quebec Liquor Commission that tells of “practical hints on the keeping and serving of wines,” and one by Corby’s (“Swizzlemanship”) that gives tips on how to rub shoulders in the business crowd (while also providing some good drinks recipes for your guests).

The “Australian Wines” on the right was actually given out at a 1964 wine-tasting event organized by the Australian Trade Commissioner and Wine Board to promote their country’s wines. Inside the book (and bottom left) was an invitation, zoom in to take a closer look.

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This 1970s-era Molson pamphlet probably features a nasty sounding beer cocktail recipe that features Molson Ex, beef consomme, tomato juice, and MSG (the “Accent”). The production quality of this piece is comparatively low (minimal?) compared to its counterparts…

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… such as this one made by Seagrams. Admittedly the Seagrams definitely looks to be older, probably from the 1950s but the contrast is still quite stark. They spent a lot of money designing this, with great art featured on each glossy page.

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Two other exceptionally well-designed pamphlets were made by Canadian Club Whisky.

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This is actually a Christmas card / miniature book that features a bunch of drink recipes. It’s likely from the 1950s as well. It’s one of my favourites because of how the art really hits your eye, which is due in part to the use of some glittery paint.

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That’s it for ephemera! Let’s finish off with a couple of miscellaneous bits and pieces, including this funny novelty wooden corkscrew…

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Last but not least is this 1950s container of “Hawaiian Coconut Snow.” Apparently it was mostly used for a drink called the “Hawaiian Snowcap”. I have a thing for vintage foods and this is no exception. I love the art and how the image is actually painted on the tin. It’s in great condition for its age, very nearly approaching mint. The best part is that it’s still mostly full and what’s inside smells surprisingly good.

I figured this might have some collectors value and I was right. I found this very similar can online that sold at auction for 26$ Canadian. Mine is in in better condition, however, so I expect I could find someone to pay more for it.

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I hadn’t realized how popular polynesian-themed bars and drinks were back in those days. Apparently it was a real “thing.” The more you know!

I fixed my bike yesterday (the chain had broke) and along the way found some cool old song books and magazines. I’ll save those for another time, though, as there’s only so much ephemera I can show in a single post. I’m taking a short trip out west soon, so maybe while I’m on the road (or the track, I’m taking the train and driving back) I can tide you over with those.

Tomorrow is my TMR route. I’m excited because I have a lot of places I want to check out. It’ll also be much warmer than it was last week. I’ll let you know if I find anything.

Also, I want to remind you that those interested can “follow” my facebook page. Click here to “like.”

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8 thoughts on “Swizzlemanship

  1. Back in the day, I used to mail away for any free recipe books, etc. that I came across. I had quite a collection of freebies (or at least, for the price of a stamp). I miss those days. Now all the free cookbooks etc. are downloads … not the same at all.

    I remember the Kon Tiki restaurant, and had the pleasure of eating there a few times … back in the day.

  2. Lynn says:

    hi
    at first I was thinking, oh darn, not much of a find..
    then I got thinking…

    I wonder, if you made up a few different arrangements on bulletin boards (or a large sheet of cardboard), and went around to some bars, you might be able to sell these kind of things to bars, etc, to decorate with?

    • martng says:

      For sure, though I’d probably go the internet route to sell them. Or maybe a yard sale. There’s lots of people who love collecting vintage paper stuff, especially if it’s from the 50s or before. Drinking is also a pretty cross-generational interest, making this sort of ephemera more popular.

      • Lynn says:

        you know, if you’re good at this kind of thing, or have a friend who is, I BET that if you made up several largish “displays” (fridge cartons have large cardboard, and could “frame” it with black electricians tape/duct tape)
        BET you would get a GOOD dollar at bars/new bars opening

  3. Mulligan says:

    Unfact. The Kon-Tiki restaurant was forced to close it’s doors because of its belligerently unwillingness to comply to the Language Laws that were to be set 20 years later.

  4. Mulligan says:

    On a more serious note, recipe books/pamphlets have been around for ages and they haven’t seemed to have phased out… yet.

  5. Megan Rapaport says:

    I just bought a book SHABBY CHIC by Rachel Ashwell.One can decorate one’s house or condo with cool things you rescue from the trash or cool things you buy from flea markets.What a shame so much ephemera and souvenirs are thrown out !Please buy a copy of Rachel Ashwell’s wonderul book SHABBY CHIC and read it.It makes for wonderful reading.Shabby chic also has its own website.Good luck,Martin.Congratulations.

  6. George Wright says:

    Wow I just came across your blog, while surfing through the net as I had nothing else to do. It’s quite interesting the way you keep collecting things that people usually throw away as junk. I am sure there are many things that are thrown out because the owners think that it is a piece of junk. But in truth they may fetch you a decent sum if you sell them. And the people who collect all the junk, the garbage collection service won’t be knowing the worth of many things that passes through their hands everyday. I’ll be looking forward to your blogs now.

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