Saturday, 19 March 2011

More Miscellany From The Family Archive

Contemporary Furniture For The Late 1950s / Early 60s Family In The UK

I've been having another rummage through the Millington family archive, aka mom's old biscuit tin which, by strange coincidence, was a tin of Huntley Palmers Family Circle (probably an antique item in itself!) and my latest discovery is a black & white brochure for Quality Furniture by Viking.


I can't see a date on this brochure but I have a feeling that mom and dad might have been looking at this around the time of their impending marriage in 1958 or perhaps before they moved out of the extended Millington family home in Monument Road, Ladywood and set up their very own independent home at 107 Station Road in Harborne in early 1961.

One might assume from this brochure that Viking Furniture Industries were the Ikea of their day. A Google search identifies several Viking companies around today, including furniture manufacturers and sellers, but I can't immediately identify any of them as this same company. This one was based at Sydenham Station Approach in London SE26.

On the front of the brochure Viking Furniture Industries announce that they are "proud to present this selection of contemporary craftsman-built furniture, brought to you at a fraction of normal prices".

"All items are soundly constructed in choice hardwood with finest hardwood multi-ply for long life".

Looking through the brochure certain items do seem familiar, such as a gateleg table (V 120)and the Sapele dining room suite (V 108a). If the items that my parents had at Station Road for some four or five decades were indeed from this Viking brochure, then we can definitely confirm that the company's claim of reliability and longevity was a valid one.

Remarkable value too, it should be said, with the contemporary 3-piece bedroom suite below, including wardrobe (V 100), chest (V 101) and dressing table (V 102) costing an incredible £12.14.0. But if 12 quid was beyond the budget of your average newly wed couple just starting out in their first home in 1961, then thankfully Viking were offering budget terms:

"Details of our easy payment plan will be found on an enclosed list of items".

I'm hoping the old folks have paid it off by now as we could do without being burdened with that debt in the middle of a global recession.



The language in the sales pitch is also rather outmoded these days, I don't think they'd get away with the following advert for a complete 6 piece dining room suite in silver birch, costing 25 and a half guineas:

"Here's every woman's idea of luxury (and every man's idea of economy!)"

A case of that cheeky Bert in the sales and marketing department enjoying a harmless little gender role stereotype gag with his customers there perhaps? Though no doubt Mavis in the secretarial office would have appreciated the purchase had it come her way.

Elsewhere in the brochure we have the Admiralty Type Desk (V 113) for him and the Needlework cum Coffee Table (V 107) for her:

"What a clever double-purpose cabinet! Closed - it's an attractive occasional table. Open - it's a housewife's delight, with sliding tray and container that keeps all your needlework tidily at hand".


I wonder if Doris Day ever owned the V 104 (lovely polished kidney dressing-table) for just 79/6:

"Genuine Queen Anne style in polished walnut or medium oak. Shines like a dream - looks like a million! Price includes a set of adjustable triple mirrors. Matching upholstered stool red, blue, yellow".

A yellow stool next to your polished walnut Queen Anne huh?  ...very nice.
 

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