Shopping lists are nothing new. This one from the early 1900s is great because it’s totally sustainable. It uses no paper or ink and can be used and reused simply by flicking the metal arrows. Of course a shopping indicator like this limits the user to a particular range of items…and that’s why it’s so valuable to us now. It provides insight into the sorts of items most frequently bought in grocery stores at that time. Spices like nutmeg and ginger were used in both savoury and sweet recipes. Foods like tapioca and sago aren’t so popular today. And does anybody at all buy lard? We have an enormous range of cleaning agents to choose from these days but, back then, all cleaning requirements were met by soap, soda and vinegar.
Objects from the past can tell us so much about the lives of the people who used them. When you visit your local museum take the time to read the objects carefully. You’ll be surprised by their stories.
Check out this object and 300 more in Paddock to Plate: a history of food and wine in Orange & District, opening 7 April.
Loan courtesy of Canowindra Historical Society and Museum Inc.