There’s a new trend for nostalgia in America. However, this time the items aren’t destined for the antique bookcase at home, but the dusty archives of some of America’s multinational corporations.
Corporate archivists are out in force, scouting the auctions, fairs and antique dealers for rare nuggets of treasure from their company’s past. Some of the finds – such as a deep-fried onion nugget from a 1970s McDonald’s meal – are distinctly uninspiring. However others – such as a 19th century quill pen used by a company founder to sign his marriage register – would look at home in the finest antique desk.
Everyone in Lancashire knows Proctor & Gamble, the US multinational behind such household brands as Arial and Gillette. Founded in 1837 by an English candlemaker and Irish soapmaker, the firm still has its headquarters in the town of Cincinnati, where there is also a small museum dedicated to P&G’s past. One of the most charming items is an unsigned watercolour for Ivory soap, which earned the artist $508 – quite a lot of money for 1900. The 1837 founding document is also on display, as is an antique chest from 1865. Discovered in an old mine, it was designed to hold candles.
Unilever, formerly known as Lever Brothers, is another familiar name in the soap industry. Port Sunlight, the model village built to house its workers, has a fascinating museum and is within easy reach of Lancashire.
The antique mahogany partners desks seen in the antique dealers of Preston often have interesting tales to tell – who knows what boardroom antics they were privy to.
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