Interest in old groceries

An  auction house is probably the last place you'd expect to buy groceries - especially when the ones on the shelf are about 100 years old.

But tomorrow morning, Proctor Auctions is selling about 700 lots of grocery items, produced and sold in New Zealand in the early 1900s.

Auction house owner Ronald Proctor expects the items will draw an unusually large crowd.

"We have a museum-quality collection of vintage advertising and grocers' items.''

Mr Proctor said the items were collected by the late Tony Hart, who owned a Four Square store in Auckland and died in Dunedin earlier this year.

"He collected all things Four Square.

Proctor Auctions owner Ronald Proctor holds an advertising sign, which will be among 700 lots...
Proctor Auctions owner Ronald Proctor holds an advertising sign, which will be among 700 lots going under the auctioneer's hammer tomorrow. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

"It's quite amazing and a lot of it is New Zealand-made.

"It's been packed up for the last 10 years. This is the first time it's ever been displayed.''

The collection includes branded biscuit tins, food cans, soaps, sweets, tea tins, ice-cream signs, condiments, cordials, toys, old shop tills - even an advertising sign saying: "For your throat's sake, smoke''.

"They're rare as. Very, very hard to find these days. Because it was all so perishable, a lot of it got chucked away.

"In the whole 40-odd years I've been doing this, I've never seen a collection like it.''

While none of the food items are still edible, Mr Proctor estimated their total value to be "tens of thousands of dollars'', and said he had already had inquiries from as far away as Australia.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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