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Rich collectables legacy of world-famous Colman’s Mustard

PUBLISHED: 11:12 07 April 2018

The Baron de Beef - some of the famous 'Mustard Club' memorabilia produced by Colman's of Norwich.

The Baron de Beef - some of the famous 'Mustard Club' memorabilia produced by Colman's of Norwich.

Archant © 2014

Collectables: Mike Hicks reflects on the legacy of Colman’s Mustard and Norwich.

It is always sad when a company or business that has been synonymous with our region moves elsewhere. This will be the case with Colman’s of Norwich, whose city operation will close in 2019 with production moving to the Midlands and Germany.

The company was established way back in 1814 at Stoke Holy Cross. Jeremiah James Colman and his family valued all their employees, treating them as if they were members of the family and even established a school for their children. They had housing and sick benefits for their employees decades before it became public policy.

Colman hit upon a winner with the production of his pots of ready-made mustard but he was not just a good businessman, he also hit upon an instantly-recognisable trade logo: the bull’s head and the Colman’s sign. I think the greatest accolade that any business can have is to have its name recognised anywhere. The Colman sign must rank as good as the one produced by Kodak and those two certain opposing fizzy-drink manufacturers!

Not only did Jeremiah produce a good product and a good sign, but he backed it up with many promotional products. He used firms like Royal Doulton to produce mustard pots in the form of very corpulent cooks with their aprons and these, together with the many other objects that were produced for Colman’s to back up their products, are highly collected today.

In talking to BBR Auctions, who specialise in advertising memorabilia, they have said that the top four items required by collectors of advertising memorabilia are some of the Colman’s items; not just the chairs, the mustard pots and the like, but the posters they produced.

The Mustard Shop (when it was in the Royal Arcade in Norwich) had the most incredible poster advertising the mustard factory, showing the river with wherries unloading seed and at the same time, loading up the finished products for shipment down to Yarmouth.

Superbly-produced advertising material such as this is extremely sought-after today so should you be fortunate to have any, do take great care of it.

I well remember visiting the Mustard Shop and marvelling at the range of advertising material from the past that was on display. There were glass display cabinets full of antique and vintage mustard pots, posters and show cards galore.

I do so hope that this material can be kept together - and Norwich is the place where it should remain on view!

Mike Hicks runs Stalham Antique Gallery at 29 High Street, Stalham (NR12 9AH). You can contact Mike on 01692 580636 or info@mikehicksantiques.co.uk.

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