Monday, May 30, 2011

Val-Orange and Industex

There is not much to commend this envelope front apart from the interesting franking pattern - and the fact that it was posted in Somerset East, not Port Elizabeth. What did someone in that little town owe money to the City Treasurer for, I wonder.

Again, the franking date is 1961, but I see the marks also contain different times, which is amazing. Did they change their franking stamps as the day progressed?

Ah, I see this was on the back of the envelope - a company called Scott, Stegmann & Mills. I've just checked the phone book and none of those surnames is listed in the town today.

What was Val-Orange, I wonder? Well they're no longer in the phone book. But on the Net? There seems to be nothing conclusive. Val may be valuable. Orange could be the citrus fruit, or a reference to the Orange Free State, or to Holland.

Industex, surely, is still with us in PE. Would you believe it, they're not in the phone book. Yet a google search reveals Industec Technical Textiles are very much a going concern in Neave Township, PE. They were founded in 1949, says the website. But how do people contact them?

Krikst's Butchery, which was in Durban Road, Korsten, has also disappeared, judging by its absence from the phone book.

Telaflo dampers

I'm nearing the end of my collection of envelopes with logos and adverts on the front, but many contain the names of companies on the back, which is also of interest. These all date back to the Port Elizabeth Municipality in 1961 - 50 years ago.

I'm no expert on technical matters, but I assume a "damper" is something that stifles noise in some or other machine. To put a damper on something is to lessen the enjoyment thereof. Not surprisingly, there is no Telaflo in the phone book, but what of the Internet? Well there is still a Telaflo Manufacturing Co in Pinetown, KZN. Finally, I discover that they are shock absorbers. Such is my knowledge of cars ...

I had a colleague called Barry Avery. I wonder if he was related to this early form of measuring and computing, so to speak? Eureka! The SA Scale Co, here with a Joburg address crossed out, and a PE PO Box number stamped on in its place, still exists in the PE phone book. But it no longer has even a Box number. Instead, woe of woes, you can call a call centre, which could be anywhere in the world.

There is no Queen's Furnishing Co in the PE phone book. I like the name of the building: House Electron.

What of J M Marais, the electrical engineers? No. Lots of Marais in the phone book, but no J M.

PE Wholesale Meat Supplies is also no more. Supermarkets obviously put paid to many such businesses.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tombstone blues

Here are four very different enterprises, some of which have no doubt ceased operating since mailing their accounts to the Port Elizabeth city treasurer in 1961.

Don't you dig this envelope art? They didn't even leave space for the stamp. Anyway, the firm seems to have met its maker, although there are still two Pennachinis listed in the phone book.

This was mailed from Durban, I see, with Union Liquid Air getting a fair bit of advertising on their envelope. I wonder how many people actually saw these little ads.

I needed a magifying glass to read what this was all about. Well it reads, "Nursing Services of South Africa" around the image of a nurse on a map of SA, divided into day and night (no doubt signifying around-the-clock service). "A nurse for every emergency" is offered, but it would be interesting to know if this was a private company. Well, Google has come up trumps here. Though it is no longer listed in PE, there is a website by that very name, with the firm claiming to be "the leading nurse and home care agency". Their address is in Bellville.

Now here is a logo that has been around a while. The Automobile Association's logo, naturally, looked like it does on the envelope when I was a kid, but today it is far simpler - just two As inside a pentagon. The company was formed in a restaurant in London in 1905, and opened in SA in 1930.

Pudney, Maybaker, Hirst and Gingell

No overly exciting artwork on the fronts of these envelopes, but some interesting names from the Port Elizabeth of 1961.

I had somehow associated the name Pudney with either real estate or law, but a look in the phone book reveals that A J Pudney & Co still exists - as both an ostrich feather pruducts business in North End and as an export marketing business in Walmer.

I have been around long enough to know that the name Maybaker was something pretty big in business, possibly engineering. Let's have a look. Well they are no longer listed in the PE phone book, but who are they? Well for once Google have let me down as a search yielded no informative results.

One of numerous firms using the bay's historic name, Algoa. Does Algoa Furnishers still exist? Nope. Nothing in the phone book.

There is no Gingell, Ayliff & Co in the phone book either, only an attorney called A A Gingell.

Finally, F Hirst & Co. I grew up in Bonza Bay, East London, with a family headed by Johnny Hirst, down the road. Not a common name, there is only an N W Hirst in the phone book.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Netherlands Bank of South Africa

This first envelope contains a history lesson.

The original bank was formed in Amsterdam in 1888, with a suitably Dutch name, Nederlandsche Bank end Credietvereeniging. A branch opened in Pretoria later that same year, according to the Nedbank website. Other offices opened around the country, and it changed its name to the Nederlandsche Bank voor Zuid-Afrika in 1903. It became the Netherlands Band of South Africa in 1951, changing its name to Nedbank Limited in 1971.

I somehow doubt Dr Joan is still around in PE. She's not in the phone book.

J S Davidson, the chemist, is no longer in the book.

What of Harris & Damerell? There is only an L G Harris, paintbrush manufacturers.

PE Plating also seems to have gone belly-up.

Old Mutual, Goodyear

This selection of envelopes contains some well established commercial names, but do they still exist?

Well this one is still very much around. Now known simply as Old Mutual, the logo, I see in the phone book, has been modernised, but still comprises three interlocking anchors. Instead of the words running around them, they are on the right.

There is a Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Kabega at the above address.

This is the back of that envelope, which reveals that they used a printed envelope originally meant for the St Augustine's Cathedral in Central.

Now we get to the heart of PE's car-related industries. Goodyear SA, as it is today, has several premises listed in the phone book.

I couldn't find S H Muller in the book.

A votre sante

There have probably been several PE Arts & Crafts shops in the city down the years, but this one in Russell Road no longer seems to be listed in the phone book.

However, I rather like the composition and colours here, helped by the upside-down stamp.

This envelope was rather rudely cut by the City Treasurer lady who collected it for the stamp. Anyway, a phone book check reveals no Schlesingers at all.

Likewise, Photo Express has disappeared. Not surprising, given how digital cameras have affected the industry. I like the way the envelope is simply addressed to the city treasurer.

There also doesn't seem to be an M Wiseman left in Port Elizabeth, optician or otherwise.

This is a bit of a mystery. I wonder what that coat of arms with a prancing black horse represents. Well a quick google search reveals that the words at the bottom, "a votre sante" are in fact French and are a toast, "to your health".

Friday, May 20, 2011

Park Gate

I'm a relative newcomer to Port Elizabeth, having only spent about 27 years here, almost half my life. So when I got here in 1984, I'm pretty sure the Park Gate tea rooms and grocers in Western Road was no longer there.

That said, it seems I may just have missed it, because in the current phone book there is a Park Gate Supermarket listed in Western Road. This must be at the top of the street, near Rink Street and hence, quite close to the main gate into St George's Park, between the two wings of the former King George VI Art Gallery, renamed about a decade ago along with a myriad other things, after Nelson Mandela.

There are a couple of H Evans listings in the phone book, but no company by this name.

There are, of course, a couple of Schultz branches in PE, one of them a stone's throw from where I live in Newton Park. Algemene Uitrusters probably translates to General Outfitters, so this must be the same family firm. I see they were based at Berry-se-Hoek, or Berry's Corner. This I recall as being on the corner of Kempston and Stanford roads.

Another Divisional Council which owed the PE Municipality some money.

There is no P B Calitz listed in the phone book, but the name resonates thanks to Anton Calitz, a musician who I saw early in his career in the late-1980s.

Clarendon Hotel

IT is now 191 years since some 5 000 British settlers arrived in Algoa Bay in 1820. Their legacy is felt not only in Port Elizabeth and the Albany district where they were initially placed, but throughout the country. Part of that legacy is a rich heritage of Victorian and Edwardian buildings. I'm not sure how old the Clarendon Hotel is, or if it even still exists as a hotel.

I visited it several times in the 1980s, when live folk music was played in the large pub. It is not listed in the phone book, so I'll have to visit Central Hill - which is going through a welcome revitalisation - to check it out. But how friendly must it not have been, hey? Friendliest in the Friendly City!

There's no Noel P Hunt in the phone book. I wonder what he did.

Ditto Charles F Hayes. What did he do? Look, 50 years later, any small business person would by now have long since retired. So unless it was a major concern, it would simply have shut down, I guess.

When I lived in Central in the 1980s, the Oasim Centre was the oddly named tower block where many a medical practice was housed. With the advent of private hospitals, most have probably moved out. This was probably one of them.

Ah, I spoke earlier of the British settlers. Well the Divisional Council of Bathurst is where they were first settled.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I titled this after a long-established PE bakery, but chose to kick off with an envelope with a rather colourful logo.

The built environment of PE is under threat. Here, the 1923 Campanile is featured on a logo. And, as with so many small firms, Autorite no longer exists, according to the phone book. To read a satirical novel I have written about a future anti-colonial crusade in SA, google Azanian Apocalypse.

Do they still use these old window envelopes? This time Brito's Bakeries was probably sending a cheque, not an invoice. The firm is still listed, now in Haupt Street, Sidwell.

I remember this firm well from my youth in East London. It is still here in PE too - in Paterson Rd, North End.

Given our regular droughts, it is no wonder PE Nurseries has apparently folded. It's not in the phone book.

And, nice though the name was, Essex Engineering is also a thing of the past.

Radiators, tyres

Times have changed. Remember when car radiators looked like this?

Naturally, this oddly named firm is no longer around.

PE having always been SA's "Motown", tyres were also an important part of things. Can't find this company in the phone book.

Who, or what, was M C Jacobsz, I wonder. Well there is still someone by that name listed in the phone book in Newton Park.

There is an Algoa Agents and Distributors in Paterson Road, North End. I wonder if it has any links to this firm?

There are three Keysers in the book, but none by these initials. I see the spread of business to Newton Park had already begun back then.