Boots’ WW1 Commemorative Jug

Boots the Chemists remains a familiar high street brand in the UK to this very day. A hundred years ago it was equally as popular and alongside the traditional range of medicines, potions and lotions, the shop also stocked what were referred to as ‘fancy goods’. Fancy goods was a term in common use in the early part of the twentieth century for small decorative gifts or knick-knacks. Tonight we are looking at an example of one of these sold by Boots in 1914, a small china jug:imageThe design on the jug is typical of the china items brought out to celebrate the outbreak of war, with six different flags:imageLeft to right these are Belgium, Japan, Great Britain, France, Imperial Russia and Serbia. The base of the jug has the mark of the chemists and that it was purchased from the Fancy Goods Department:imageIt is interesting to note that the mark clearly indicates that the item was made in Britain. This was common in the early days of the Great War as people boycotted German goods, of which Britain had been a major importer. Boots went so far as to take out an advertisement indicating that they had replaced their German Eau de Cologne lines with local alternatives:FetchEven in 1914 Boots was one of the largest retail companies in Great Britain but during World War One their retail business was supplanted to some extent by contracts with the government. They were the main government supplier for vermin powder, anti-gas cream, water steriliser, anti-fly cream (flies were a big problem on the front), iodine tubes, matchless tinder lighters, peppermint, compressed medicines and quinine. The company was also instrumental in producing aspirin and saccharine in the UK which up until that point had been imported from Germany.

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