From the vast range of Ephemera I chose to look at a set of advertising for Price’s Candles, which could be advertisement to be displayed in a shop, or more likely to be labels or packaging from the candle its self.
I think that this set is from the Edwardian era, of the early 1900s, due to the rather recognisable white tie dress code and the elaborate table decorations that are associated with this time period, featured on Image D.
To begin with they look like rather decorative forms of branding but at a closer look they tell us a lot about the time period, in particular the role of women in the home.
Image A depicts a house maid or nanny looking after a young child, perhaps showing that any wealthy Mother need not to be tucking the child into bed, but leaving that responsibility to one of the house staff. This image suggests that it its not the lady of the house hold to be choosing which candles to purchase but rather than head house keeper.
In Image B shows the women or wife in the role of entertainer, but also highlighting her education in the arts and music. Any aspiring women should be able to play the piano. The design is rather clever in the way that on the surface it looks like it is about the different candle types you can buy, but further than that is it informing women, in a rather passive aggressive way, in how the ideal women or wife should be.
In Image C the Mother, of all people, is shown taking the child to bed rather than the nanny! Perhaps this is a more bit more of a modern image in comparison to Image A since it encourages (wealthy) mothers to take a more active role in the raising of their own child.
Finally, in Image D the ideal wife in hostess role. I am assuming that the hostess is dressed in red, making a last minute tweak to the cutlery. This suggests that it is the female’s role to make sure the house is well presented, and thus it is her role to chose the candles. Her husband is not the focal point, but he is still present none the less.
To summarise, a women has a high calling, since she has to take on many roles: the soft and motherly side, the wealthy home owner, the educated entertainer, the extravagant hostess, and a wife. The home is the place for any women, her husband is merely at her side.
The colour illustrations indicate that this is an expensive make of candle, looking to sell to the large estates. Any cheap candle makers would not have gone to the effort or cost of printing colour labels. The content of the illustrations confirm the indented buyer.
Each of the labels have a slight different take on wording of “ Price’s ” which lead me to believe that they are not part of the same set, but rather have been collected over serval years.
I think Image D is the oldest because the illustration is placed in a box, unlike the others where the image is softer without a definite edge. Images A, B, C have serval of the same features including the golden swirls, a similar style of the women at the focal point.
In Image B there are four different styles of text, which goes against the typographical rules of the present, to only use two typefaces, even more so when the wording “ Price’s “ is repeated twice. Yet the overall style reflects the very traditional and decorative era that this design comes from.