[The historian] will row out over that great ocean of material, and lower down into it, here and there, a little bucket, which will bring up to the light of day some characteristic specimen, from those far depths, to be examined with a careful curiosity.
To choose my articles for Little Buckets I go to the Evening Post archive for 1913 and then use Random.org to select a page, and then a column in a page from “today’s” newspaper. I mention this because after selecting this advertisement from column five of page 16 I found myself on a very long internet trail with strange connections to my life. But let’s start with the original advertisement.
I feel like this product is aimed squarely at the wealthier woman of leisure rather than the working class wife. The times on the clocks seem a little skewed towards the life of leisure. Technically, I suppose, 11am is the morning, but it seems a touch late to be taking a glass of Wincarnia to brace you up for the morning work. Mind you the definition of work seems to involve shopping, travelling, and walking. In the evening (way past my bedtime) it does seem curious that a drink that invigorates also ensures a good night’s rest.
I was very pleased to find that Wincarnis is still in production in Norfolk, England. A Wincarnis blog states:
Wincarnis (which is derived from Wine Carnis Latin for ‘of meat’) is a brand name of a British tonic wine, popular in Jamaica and some other former British colonies. It is a fortified wine (14%) now made to a secret recipe of grape juice, malt extracts, herbs and spices, but it no longer contains meat. It tastes a bit like sweet sherry.
It is hard to go past the line “it no longer contains meat” without flinching. Just as it is hard not to look at this ad without delight.
Brain-fag. Mental prostration. Two terms I am immediately bringing into my everyday speech. Never mind, let’s find out about this meat thing.
Wincarnis was originally called Liebig’s Extract of Meat and Malt Wine, and was a product of the Liebig Extract of Meat Company founded by the German chemist Justus von Liebig in 1865. It was Justus’ company that would create Oxo beef stock cubes, and eventually established their company in London in a building under what would become the famous Oxo Tower.
Liebig wanted to include a tower featuring illuminated signs advertising the name of their product. When permission for the advertisements was refused, the tower was built with four sets of three vertically-aligned windows, each of which “coincidentally” happened to be in the shapes of a circle, a cross and a circle.
It should be noted that Liebig died in 1873, about 50 years before the art deco remodel of the building in question, so it seems that Wikipedia may be wrong on this point, but it’s a good story.
I suppose that it was the winter of 1998 that Cathy and I had dinner in the restaurant at the top of the Oxo Building. Matt took us there and I think Danyl came too. Cathy and I had gone to Osaka in 1998, and by December already had enough money to go to London for Christmas. It was the first time I had been to England (or pretty much anywhere outside of Osaka) and that trip remains vivid and fresh in my memory.