A look at the gifts of yesteryear

Abingdon Street in the early 20th century Pic courtesy of Blackpool Memories on Facebook www.facebook.com/BlackpoolMemories (blackpoolpostcards.co.uk)
Abingdon Street in the early 20th century Pic courtesy of Blackpool Memories on Facebook www.facebook.com/BlackpoolMemories (blackpoolpostcards.co.uk)
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Forget fancy Christmas presents. Forget your iPads and Kindles. If you were around in 1915, chances are you’d be getting potted meat and an umbrella as a gift.

100 years ago, Blackpool residents were not after an array of the latest must-have presents. Far from it.

Abingdon Street 2015

Abingdon Street 2015

Linens and headache remedies were top of the list in an era when the word luxury had a whole different meaning – at least that’s what reading the reports in The Gazette tells us.

The edition dated December 17, 1915, featured a Mr H Monk, of Caunce Street, who claimed potted meat was vital to having a happy Christmas.

Mr Monk, a pork butcher, offered sausages and supplied bigger dishes for the discerning customer.

Similarly, Mr F Hindle, a florist and fruiterer on Church Street, claimed he was “the best shop in town for fruit and and flowers and always makes artistic arrangements of his goods.”

Gramophone - 1915 model

Gramophone - 1915 model

If you were the picky type – and not quite satisfied with just flowers and potted meat for Christmas – you could rest assured that your linen woes would be taken care of at the Belfast Linen Co on Clifton Street.

“Linens for all purposes”, the shop claimed. “Everybody knows the fame of the firm, one may look into our shop windows and not in vain, for something to send away to one’s friends that will be most acceptable - ladies and gentlemen’s hanker-chiefs, for instance, Irish damask table-cloths, fancy serviettes.”

For those who anticipated Boxing Day hangovers, the reliable remedy “Capamint” was available at all local chemists claiming to rid you of those headaches “speedily and without injury.” The advert read: “The pleasant mint that looks like a sweet and tastes like a sweet and without harmful effect on the heart. A miracle mint!”

How about an umbrella wrapped up under the tree?

For a rainy day, Kendall umbrellas provided the “finest umbrella value”. Claiming to make excellent gifts, Kendall umbrellas on Talbot Road had a “wonderful array of beautuful models at choice and the prices to suit all pockets.”

Not content with umbrellas, the shop also offered “very pleasing walking-sticks”.

For the more well-to-do folk, 50 shillings in 1915 could buy you a gramophone from Cook’s salon on Abingdon Street, which boasted of the progress that has been made with these “talking” machines.

Special records were issued for Christmas, including Zonophone, Jumbo and Diamond records. Complete with six double-sided records a gramophone was available at what they deemed a moderate price - which is the equivalent, in today’s money - plus inflation - to £250.

Leaping ahead to today – and there’s a surprisingly close comparison.

For one of this year’s touted ‘must-have’ purchases for adults is a gramophone-esque Crosley Cruiser briefcase-style portable vinyl turntable player, as vinyl records make a comeback.

However other top gifts are a world apart.

BB8, a remote-comtrol droid from the new Star Wars film is the must-have item, this Christmas, while Little Live Pets are also proving hugely popular – a parrot you can teach to talk, sing, dance and swing on a perch.