'Fancy work': the mass aesthetic

A work of art is great because it is in some way an expression of the good, the true and the beautiful. By association of ideas, its use in advertisement is intended to convey similar conceptions of the commodity advertised.

Advertiser’s Monthly, July 1929, page 11. 

This essay is a shard from a project to track the expansions of capital in Australia during the era of monopolising since the 1870s. The paper traces some of the terms, principally “glamour”, that marketers developed to promote standardised products. Their choice of vocabulary, like all social practices, was embedded in time, place and manner. Informing the exploration is a materialist treatment of culture which restores production to centre stage when discussing consumption, whether of images, ideas or other commodities. That approach requires distinguishing the opportunities offered by empirical study from the limitations that Empiricism imposes on interpretation. No less important is the avoidance of “double-entry history” in which some facility with theory and a familiarity with the sources do not add up.[1]

Producing Mass Consumption
Capital must expand to survive. In the era of monopolising, capitalists have pursued accumulation by reducing unit costs through mass production. The consequent explosion in the volume of products called for greater consumption. Supply could not create its own demand. Workers had to be induced to spend beyond what the system of exploitation had taught them to consider necessities.[2] Only with the excitement of new needs could the surplus value extracted from their labour be realised as profit. To this end, managers developed systems of marketing to stimulate the turning of commodities back into money, an exchange pivotal in the accumulation of capital. The marketing regime brought forth product design, merchandising, consumer credit and mass media, with advertising as a sliver of the sales effort.[3]

Commentators still swarm around the impress of these practices upon taste and tradition. Who has not rung the changes on Walter Benjamin’s thoughts about how mechanical reproduction affected the work of art?[4] Lithography and photography soon exceeded that realm as marketers used printing and film to supersaturate the visual environment with inducements to buy.

Benjamin’s hypothesis resonates with the 1801 boast by Eli Whitney that the parts of his rifles were “as much like each other as the successive impressions of a copper-plate engraving”.[5] Appreciation of the importance of standardisation and simplification in industry is a precondition for understanding the interchanges between modernism and modernisation. To consider our age of oligopolies without attending to the standardisation of producing and consuming is to miss developments that went beyond work and warfare to penetrate family life, science and the arts.[6] To treat standardisation as the matrix for modernisation risks fewer errors than have resulted from neglecting the former’s pervasiveness.[7]

In the interpreting of commodities, their marketing and consumption should never be severed from their production. Each act of production involves the consumption of commodities – tools or machinery, semi-finished goods, raw materials and labour power. Hence, an inquiry into consumption by individuals has to begin from within the cycles of production as socialised consumption.[8]

Instead, recent accounts of consumption in Australia have made products appear to create themselves out of nothing. This parthenogenesis afflicted Fibro frontier: a different history of Australian architecture (1997), where Charles Pickett gave chapters to every aspect of fibro, except how it was made. Hence, his version was not as “different” from Robin Boyd’s as it might have been. Margaret Maynard’s account of clothing and fashion in twentieth-century Australia took no notice of the production of the raw materials for nylons and polyester garments; her six mentions of tanning referred to sunlight on the skin, not chemicals on hides. Ann Stephen linked consumption to domestic reproduction in “Selling Soap: Domestic Work and Consumerism”, but did not comment on the waged work required for the soap’s manufacture, or on commercial laundries.[9] If these authors had been commenting on each other’s writings, they might have identified “production” as the “significant absence”.

The components in the cycles of production-consumption are repositioned to contribute to each phase in the expansion of capital. A hundred years after Whitney, his successors standardised components, designs and products in an effort to lift the profitability of mass production.[10] In the process, machino-facture helped to rejig the relations between the ethical and the beautiful. By the 1920s, innovations in welding, for instance, had shifted metalwork from the serpentine towards angularity.[11] Modernist ideologues enunciated the precepts of streamlining, truth-to-materials, and form-expressing-function.

Two hundred years earlier, Alexander Baumgarten did not have to evaluate standardised commodities, or explicate ideas designed to boost consumption. Yet he identified “aesthetics” as a field of study just before Josiah Wedgwood began to market Creamware in the 1760s. Within twenty years, Kant was beating the retreat from industry by associating beauty with the sublimity of nature rather than with art. Throughout the nineteenth century, the majority of people depended on use-values produced in their domestic economy. Not until the second half of the twentieth century did the bulk of U. S. Americans encounter a plethora of commodities. Hence, there had been little point in discussing the mass of exchange-values in terms of quality or virtue. Duchamp’s ready-mades were among the first judgements found to critique this situation.

The gulf between aesthetics and mass production/consumption paralleled the stance of philosophers who, for millennia, had presented their playing with concepts as the sum of human endeavour.[12] The paradox today is that authors who pride themselves on eschewing judgements of quality have carried on that Philosophical Idealism. Like the Kantians, the post-moderns keep their distance from the production of commodities.

Avoiding the unity of consumption with production guarantees that cultural critics will go astray when considering the production of the ideas to service the expansion of capital. Focusing on consumption by individuals means that these writers do not grasp that shopping nourishes labour power so that it can be resold for wages to meet the socially necessary costs of its reproduction. The determinant of spending power is earning capacity. The effective demand of a consumer is set by the struggle over wages.

Without the dynamic from this struggle between classes, the explicators of ideology deliver mechanical and one-dimensional accounts. For instance, in a rush to restore agency to the consumer, cultural critics fixed their gaze on the most obvious aspect of marketing, namely, advertisements. Even worse, semioticians did not lift their sights past the “look” of those promotional items. This myopia could have been remedied by a glance at the contents page of any marketing textbook where advertising is put in its place on the margins of the sales effort. Kim Humphrey in Shelf Life at least examined the power relations between supermarket and shopper.[13] He did not see that overshadowing those exchanges is a contest between manufacturer and merchandiser, that is, between corporations.

Once mass production marginalised custom-made goods, marketers had trouble convincing shoppers that a line could be drawn between publicity and puffery. How could profit-taking, let alone profiteering, be treated as “the good”, propaganda and public relations be presented as “the true”, and standardised commodities be sold as “the beautiful”? The one timeless and universal element in a critique of judgement is its remaking, whether by Kant, or 1920s publicists. Marketers, therefore, responded by picturing their products as carrying forward variants of the good, the true and the beautiful. They installed a mass aesthetic, fusing pleasure with gratification to suit the imperatives of trade.

This essay will get down and dirty with them in order to retrieve the aesthetic they contrived for the mass of goods. The approach will be to examine the lexicon that marketers inscribed for an aesthetic of commerce, as adapted in Australia. The period covered loops back to the 1870s, though most of the data are drawn from between 1910 and 1970. The investigation focuses on the repositioning of the inherited triad of virtues:

“the good” shed disinterestedness to encompass products which were “good for you”;
“the true” swore that the whole truth was the “truth in advertising”;
“the beautiful” was projected as “glamour”.

Part of the marketers’ success came from refashioning maxims from the past, a move which concealed their links to modernisation. By relying on a borrowed formula, the marketers appeared to rise above the immediate needs of their clients. The inherited elements supplied an opaqueness with which to disguise their selling the superficial. This analysis will conclude with case studies of plastics and of Jewellers, a coupling which only seems antithetical.

'Good As Gold'
All forms of currency, whether conches or credit cards, expedite the exchange of commodities.[14] Capitalism could never have existed if every pair of sandals had had to be swapped for a sack of corn. Without some standard against which the labour-value of each commodity could be measured, commerce would have remained short, if no less nasty and brutish. Money was the first commodity to be standardised so that it could serve as a universal equivalent for every other commodity. The medium for these exchanges has usually been a precious metal, gold being the least vulnerable to wear-and-tear.[15] 

Beyond that commercial necessity, gold became the measure for the character of nations. The British authorities portrayed their Empire as the center of moral gravity, protecting maidenhood and enforcing contracts. The gold standard underwrote both.[16]

After the U. S. Establishment had fought and won the good fight against bi-metalism in the 1890s, Secretary of the U. S. Treasury and Chicago banker Lyman Gage oversaw the transformation of the Office of Weights and Measures into the Bureau of Standards. In 1902, Gage extended his faith in the ethical dimension of the Gold Standard to the moral benefits from accuracy in science. Against the prevalence of “looseness” in methods, ideas and spirit, Gage praised an “absolute standard, to which fidelity in all relations of life affected by that standard is required”.[17]

In 1925, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Reginald McKenna, argued that the “moral effect” of the Gold Standard was the most potent of all its “great and striking advantages” because “[a] nation will think better of itself, will almost regard itself as more honest, if its currency is convertible into gold.”[18] Australian commentators once more contrasted the ethical imperative that guaranteed that a Britisher would always pay his debts against the shonky dealings of the United States.[19] The Empire’s marriage between goodness and truth was a troubled one. Britain quit the Gold Standard to finance the Great War, returned in 1925, abandoning it again in 1932, never to return. Australia had deserted a year earlier. Professorial propagandists debated these financial questions in terms of “dishonour” and its “decadence”.[20]  

Protestant preachers had justified sacrifice on the battlefields of 1914 to 1918 as a purging fire brought down on civilization by its materialism in thought and deed.[21] In the Presidential Address to the1917 Conference of the Australian Natives Association, A. C. Ostram regretted that the attitude was “business more than usual”. Greed left the country vulnerable to “sinking back into a state of self-satisfaction and selfishness which must create grave civil dangers”. With millions of soldiers slaughtered in the trenches, and even more civilians dead from the influenza pandemic,[22] theologians had a hard time claiming that the Atonement had not sacrificed enough. Yet, the world after 1918 seemed worse. Profiteering polluted business and the Anarch ruled labour.[23] Moral purpose was at a premium for the ideology makers.

The instability of the monetary standard shook consumer confidence in the quality and value of the commodities. Gold no longer provided the surety of a universal equivalent. Order had to be plucked from chaos. Reeling from the revolts of 1919 and 1920, the Wall Street Journal condemned materialism as a socialist doctrine enflaming envy among wage-labourers. Far from capitalism’s being the fount of avarice, the editor portrayed commerce as grounded in good faith:

The gold in the Assay Office is a trifle beside the credit it represents, not merely in currency but in acceptances and checks on your drawing account. And that credit is faith, entirely proper for embodiment in the loftiest creed … faith has built every beautiful and useful thing the world enjoys. It created our railroads and the American Constitution, and the materialism which has nearly wrecked the one could destroy the other.[24]

The Journal forgot that the railroads had been financed by the Robber Barons’ swindling of British investors. Its own staff perpetrated every species of faithlessness to manipulate the stock market for personal gain, until exposed in 1933.[25]

The faithful heard that “Gold is dead” at the same time as the sales effort exploded. Once gold ceased to provide a universal equivalent for the exchange of commodities, the commodities themselves became the new measure of moral worth. The transfer of trust from gold to commodities reproduced the transformation of values into prices that is essential to the realisation of profit from surplus value. Just as gold had been paraded as the outward sign of an inner grace, so it came to pass that marketers pictured commodities as embodying the virtues of faith, hope and love.

In the United States, marketers had drawn on the grief of war to turn the recently invented Mothers Day into an opportunity to show affection by spending on gifts.[26] That initiative encouraged business to stud the calendar with prompts to buy on Fathers Day, and at Easter.[27] The alchemising of possessions into spiritual values led the academic arm of marketing to portray the coveting of ever more possessions as an extension of Transcendentalism.[28]

In this spirit, Australian jewellers asserted that their wares should not “be taxed as a quite unnecessary possession of the wealthy” but welcomed as

a necessary and beautiful act of personal adornment … The spiritual and mental momentum of the modern age demands that such kind and precious feelings should be given tangible form – and jewellery is the modern currency of fine and happy people … the all-important quality of spiritual uplift that a piece of jewellery captures ideally.[29]

Although a diamond broach retained the appearance of conspicuous display, it embodied a nobility of purpose, having undergone a marketer’s miracle of transubstantiation into a talisman for “the good”. Just as gold had once conveyed the prowess of majesty, publicists now conjured with the witchery of gemstones. Raymond Williams concluded in 1960 that “our society is quite evidently not materialist enough” because people are prepared to pay for the magical properties promised by marketing.[30]

These stratagems and incantations had become necessary because “the good” no longer assured that goods were of quality materials and craftsmanship. The buying public condemned the worst of mass production as “shoddy”. As a catch-cry for consumer resistance, “shoddy” presented the aestheticians of commerce with both their problem and a ready-made antithesis against which to refine their self-valuations. “Shoddy” had begun as technical term in the wool trade, spreading to other fabrics and garments, and eventually to attitudes and behavior.[31]

“Shoddy” was how storekeepers and their customers disparaged merchandise that did not deliver value-for-money, sound construction from dependable materials, or an agreeable appearance.[32] In 1928, the Decorator and Painter railed against “Retailing Shoddy Goods”, pointing to a spread of Brummagem, the “inferior article made in imitation of better ones”, whether jewellery or ironmongery.[33] Next year, the Melbourne trade weekly Building and Construction tempered its enthusiasm for Le Corbusier by acknowledging that financial considerations could tempt Modernist architects to use “shoddy materials”.[34]

From the origins of shoddy in marking down products as inferior, the term came to be applied to society. Writing on “The Commercialisation of Cultural Life” early in 1942, the Roman Catholic economist Colin Clark condemned capitalists for their

[v]ast masses of shoddy and deceitful goods …By all manner of indirect means they secure control over intellectual circles, universities and even governments, so as to make sure that there shall be no independent cultural criticism of the business man marketing shoddy goods for his own profit.[35]

Shortly after the war, the Australasian Leather Trades Review republished a British commentary which carried Clark’s connection from the social across to allege that “the individual whose life is spent amid shoddy and meretricious surroundings will … become merely another unit of dull, unimaginative, indiscriminate, mass-minded, humanity, without purpose in life.”[36] When the Bulletin editorialised against “The Age of Shoddy” early in 1951, it deplored not just “an age of smart-appearing but structurally shoddy homes and motor-cars, but of shoddy political and moral standards and public service.”[37] The editor blamed shoddiness on high taxes and communists, never hinting at Clark’s imputation that many capitalists needed shoddiness to remain profitable.

Truth in Advertising
“The true” had come under renewed attack from the invention of “the news” in the 1890s. When Hearst and Beaverbrook slashed the price of their newspapers, they became as dependent on the advertisers as the periodical press had been on the Toadstool Millionaires with their nostrums and cure-alls.[38] Advertisers in the 1920s slipped down a gear from the lie direct to the lie circumstantial. They offered no information about the use-values of a product but were eloquent about its ambience. David Ogilvy became the doyen of Madison Avenue by being, as he confessed with hallmark elegance, “continuously guilty of suppressio veri”.[39]

The Chairman of Grace Bros department stores alleged in 1928 that a “smoke screen of advertising” allowed business to detach price from quality.[40] As a result, the fixed prices for branded lines were too high and their quality too low. To ward off such criticism, advertising men promoted their trade behind the slogan “Truth in advertising”. They faced some difficulty in convincing the Editor of the Age of their probity. He resented their “heavy pressure” to invade pages reserved for “a high literary policy and spiritual standard”.[41]

To circumvent such criticism, the publicists posed within a gilded frame of fine art. From the Eighteenth century, advocates of the Picturesque had encouraged travelers to appreciate nature through the depictions of artists, notably Claude and Ruisdael. To touch up the truth about advertising, the Catts-Patterson Agency in 1929 illustrated its self-promotion with Van Dyck’s “Portrait of Duke of Richmond”:

Not by chance, nor alone by mere steadfast endeavour, is such a masterpiece ever achieved. This great picture enjoys enduring fame because, in addition to brilliant workmanship, artistic sincerity and kindred virtues, it has that vital quality of originality which always differentiates mediocrity and supremacy.

So in every age, in every phase of life, outstanding performance signifies an unusual combination of qualities – painstaking effort, unwavering adherence to a set aim, worthiness of aspiration and sincerity of purpose, vitalised by alert originality and a capacity for achievement.

Just as this is true of an Old Master, it is true of a modern business enterprise such as Catts-Patterson Company Ltd.[42]

In 1931, advertisers integrated the fine arts into their commercial drive by selecting the Blaxland Gallery in Farmer’s department store as the venue for their Convention. The vicar of Redfern assured delegates that Christ had been one of their company, while the State’s Governor, Sir Phillip Game, confirmed that they were not practising a “black art”.[43]

A speaker told the Advertisers’ 1918 Convention in Brisbane that their purpose in life was “the fostering of that wholesome uplifting sentiment without which no man, no business, no nation, can attain real greatness.”[44] A playwright member of the New South Wales Institute of Advertising Men, Jas. A. Ross, wound up his 1923 disquisition on “Art and Advertising” with a segment on “Psychology of Colour and the Symbol”:

If commerce holds the golden key to his earthly paradise, the Advertising Man is in possession of the big white swastika that unlocks the door of light to the Palace of Life. He is ever in the confidence of “the Unknown”, and a greater revealer of Truth than he is conscious of.[45]

Were the publicists trying to convince themselves so they could convince others, on the principle of the power of positive thinking?[46]

False values could afflict the truth of products as well as words. Veneers had given furniture an expensive-looking “disguise”, or “costly covering”,[47] as EPNS did to cutlery. Bakelite mimicked timber on wireless sets.[48] In 1925, an architect complained that “[l]inoleum for kitchen halls is often designed to simulate tiling, but like all imitations, it is handicapped by the very fact that it is not the real thing”.[49]

Synthetics such as rayon had to overcome the suspicion that they were a threat to the economy’s ability to ride on the sheep’s back. Throughout the 1950s, the Wool Bureau accused the makers of synthetics of trying to hitch a lift on the “supreme fibre”, which drew its virtuousness from the soil. Blends would have allowed the synthetic-fibre interests to reap an “advantage by association with wool”.[50] In countering the appeal of synthetics and blends, the Wool Board used Mannequin Parades to make the natural fibre appear “glamourous” rather than dowdy.[51]

Marketers took up "glamour" to redeem standardised commodities by promising the qualities that mass production erased. “Glamour” derived from the Scots for touched with the weird.[52] In the silent movie era, “glamour” applied to Greta Garbo who appeared remote and mysterious, not feminine in the sense of fluffy or motherly, still less jazzy like Mae West and Jean Harlow.[53]  This distinction dissolved once postcards of film stars became known as “Glamour Cards”, and male leads were called “glamour boys”.[54]

Before “glamour” became the settled affix for the “aestheticisation of commodities”, [55] the vocabulary for that process was itself blown by fashion. Publicists toyed with “chic”, “dream” and “magic” to give rival brands with identical use-values the selling appeal of a difference. In 1929, “chic” was in vogue for being as “elusive” and as “inimitable” as fashion itself. The association of chic with the “ready-to-wear” and the “streamlined”[56] contributed to its displacement on the grounds of being too standardised to withstand suspicion of proving shoddy. As the Second World War ended, marketers appealed to servicemen by attaching “dream” to girl, home and car.[57] In 1960, copy-writers promoted Hoovermatics with another near-homonym, “It’s Hoover Magic!”[58] Hence, the adoption of “glamour” as the generic for the desirable in commodities and bodies was not preordained. It also had to weather the transition from silent film to talkies, at the same time as households tuned into the wireless with its broadcasting of popular music.

From out of that novelty, “jazz” became for the pricey and flash what “shoddy” was for the cheap and nasty. In musical circles, “Jazz” could mean almost any popular music after the waltz. Beyond that domain, “jazz” seemed synonymous with modern(e) or contemporary. Jazz was a two-step from shoddy, yet remained suspect. One interior decorator accused “jazz” patterned wall-papers, with their “vivid reds, yellow and blues”, of causing headaches from a

strain which they throw upon the eyes … Trellis-work designs in glaring and inharmonious colorings and Futurist patterns of various varieties are in evidence, but these are favoured by only the few. The craze for such bizarre effects is, no doubt, a passing phase of the post-war fever.[59]

A 1929 writer in the Decorator and Painter castigated the “Jazz Element in Lettering” on posters as “freakish”.[60]

Not every designer was so dismissive. Because strong colours and black were difficult for decorators to bring off, any room using them needed the consistency provided by “relative tones”.[61] Hence, Jazz decoration was permissible as an accent, but “should be eschewed in the baby’s room.”[62] The author of an article titled “The Law of Fitness” could accept “Jazz-coloured papers” as one panel in an Oriental room.[63] Similarly, the “angular shapes” in the Futurist Lounge of Sydney’s State Theatre “demonstrate more order and consistency” on closer inspection because its “freakish” look had been tempered by a “soft and decorative” colour scheme.[64]

The author of a reprint of a 1927 British article advocating more colour in architecture, split “modern” from “jazz” because “[T]his distressing word has already led to much confusion, and should be quietly buried.”[65] That call had come too late to prevent the acceptance of Art Deco after the 1925 Exposition Decoratif in Paris. Next year, the Decorator and Painter recognised the good and the bad in jazz patterning:

Jazz is in direct conflict with formerly accepted ideas of art, which usually aimed at subtlety and respect for precedent and established rules in regard to design and colour. Jazz ornament is crude and striking, suggesting the primitive. Though its origins have been semi-savage, jazz ornament has become so universal that it has to be accepted and taken seriously as a definite style of art … It has had a profound effect upon modern fine and applied art …

But jazz is not without compensating features. Its simplicity and striking colouring offer freedom and scope for originality. It is the only genuinely characteristic and widely adopted type of modern ornament that has been evolved of recent years and the modern decorators and artists are compelled to take it into account.[66]

As a cross-over from the shoddy towards the streamlined, the use of “jazz” as a descriptor was a stage in the quest by marketers for terms with which to anchor their promotions. “Jazz” appealed to the segment of the market that was most susceptible to the new products. That cohort was still too small for “Jazz” to replace “beauty” as a standard.

Neologisms risked exposing any sales pitch for what it was. Which terms were suitable could be decided only after experimenting. Chic and Jazz failed. Glamour triumphed. Once the latter had been accepted at the top end of the market, its potential to attract buyers could be extended to every product.

Since traditional attitudes could not be jettisoned in a trice, marketers accepted that “appeals to the woman of 1936 must include both glamour and security as essential ingredients”.[67] Radio serials promoted toiletries to help women think of themselves as glamourous, thereby bringing the exotic into the domestic. Lux Radio Theatre deployed Hollywood scripts and de Millean production values to back up the claim that Lux was “used by nine out of ten film stars.”[68] The commodity (soap) sponsoring the serial (“soaps”) was itself glamourised by association with tales of romance. Soap commercials nourished fantasies more than faces.[69]

The marketers’ application of “glamour” added an extra use-value to each exchange. On the first page of Capital, Marx had observed that whether the human want that a commodity satisfied “sprang from the stomach or from fancy, makes no difference”. Thus, rouge could provide just as much use-value as an ointment. In turn, the packaging of a brand of lipstick could give its wearer as much satisfaction as the cosmetic.[70]

In the 1930s, marketers moved women’s bathing costumes to the fashionable end of the great chain of buying. A marketing reporter observed that these “Glamour” swim suits presupposed “the Streamlined Girl”, linking two tropes of modernisation. He also pointed to the reified strand in a transaction which encouraged women to “buy a few ounces of glamour”.[71] Few could fit into fashionable beachwear, nor did they want to. They had to be taught to desire both that body and the item of clothing.

War-time rationing and drab brought a hiatus in marketing. With peace, pent-up savings led to an explosion of effective demand. Too much money was chasing too few goods. In that sellers market, even shoddy items could seem glamourous when coloured. After 1945, “How many colours does it come in?” became more pressing for a purchasing manager at a retail outlet than securing the precision that had been demanded by a military procurement engineer.[72] During the late 1940s, customers would buy any household item made from plastics materials, though “bright colours are ready sellers.”[73]

The conflict between price competition and marketing erupted during the period of the sellers’ market. [74] Standardisation promised lower costs. In 1949, motoring columnists complained that “‘styling’, glamour, glisten and gadgetry” were preventing car-makers from achieving cost savings from mass production.[75] In addition, a decline of quality was being concealed by promotions, or by extras that distracted attention from structural flaws. Two-tone paints provided the cheaper path to automobile glamour than chrome.[76]

In another unity of opposites, a dazzle of colours offered an antidote to the drab of standardisation. Because colours operated at the surface, traditionalists feared them as markers of the shoddy. Marketers embraced them as bearers of glamour. A priority for deepening our interpretation of the aesthetics of commerce will be to anchor those ideas to accounts of the technologies - social and physical - needed to produce and to apply colour to film, printing and paints.[77]

To bestow sophistication on suburban plastics, Laminex put “Glamour in the shower recess”, along with a woman clothed only in a towel, as if on the cover of Man Junior.[78] Feminists object to advertisers’ inclusion of a female form in situations where it has no connection with the product.[79] International Harvester’s campaign of “Glamourising Trucks” with chorus girls and mini-skirted models sexualized its sales pitch.[80]

By 1966, the marketers were extending glamour to the ornamenting of necessities to make the everyday look desirable, no matter how mundane its use. Suet was the exemplar. Cerebos sought to have its brand replace the butchers' version, which younger housewives “associated with drab and dreary cooking”’. Broadcasting and Television headlined its report of that campaign: “How to ‘dress up’ an unglamourous product for TV”. The commercial opened with “gay glamour and hearty feasting” set in the Tom Jones period. The sequence was shot in the great hall of Monsalvat, at the Eltham artists' community. The storyboard called for “wenches who display their charms to gallants”, in imitation of the 1963 feature film based on Fielding’s novel.[81]

In similar vein, Marrickville Holdings moved to “Glamourise Magarine”[82] in order to overturn legislation limiting the quantity of the table variety that could be sold under its own name.[83] Norco butter replied with its “glamour” campaign by setting a cow on stage while an orchestra played Beethoven's Pastoral symphony.[84] Other marketers sought to “boost the glamour of sugar”.[85] Meanwhile, “Rice needed glamour” to overcome the resistance of South Australians to eating “a gluey compact ball” which “was a poor colour due to the grubby Adelaide water”.[86]

Glamour reached its sexual apogee in November 1961 when Hickory launched its “Dare” range of foundation garments, with a full-color eight-page gatefold in the Australian Women’s Weekly.[87] The promise was “For Instant Glamour”. The account executive for Hickory explained that the marketing strategy had been to challenge

all women to make themselves look provocative. The way we look at it, when you’re selling glamour and fashion-excitement you’ve got to advertise with glamour and excitement. And if you can wrap up that glamour and excitement in an advertising shock-treatment that’s completely different from and bigger than anything your customers have ever seen before, your message is going to strike home with maximum force.  

The agency had hired a psychologist, whose report stressed that the advertisement dared the reader

to make herself provocative. It reminds her forcibly of her sex and its implications, and dares her to admit them to herself … The sophisticated-cum-mischievous attitude assures self-identification with the model. The female viewer will be thrown into a delightful state of conflict – a desire to identify with the basic appeal conflicting with reluctance to admit the desire. This raises positive feelings concerning the purchasing situation. [88]

“Wear DARE if you dare” was shocking in 1961 for the readership of the Weekly, which was edited to attract women of all ages. The “Dare” promotion is another reminder that marketers the foundation laid for the sexual revolution in the Sixties.[89]

As glamour slipped from quality goods to the glossing of necessities, its application spread from particular products to cover shopping as a pastime. Bankstown Square promoted itself with the promise that “Glamour is easy if you have both time and the money.”[90] Merchandisers needed women to squander their hours and dollars. Those sales managers had the opposite approach in mind for their resources. For them, glamour was a device to accelerate turnover and accumulate money capital.[91]

The spread of glamour from a handful of silent movie queens to the most mundane of household products did not strip the word of its association with value or expense. In 1965, the Advertising Manager for the somewhat down-market Woman’s Day explained his magazine’s policy towards features:

The type of fashion we run is basically Australian, and the sort of fashion women can wear, make, and buy. We do show the occasional glamour dress, and glamour kitchen. But this is aimed at ‘improving the current way of life’.[92]

Glamour remained the preserve of its rival, the Weekly, until market segmentation by age and purchasing power the late 1960 brought a range of publications to package readers.[93]

Marketers did more than insert the word “glamour” into their copy. They integrated its sensuousness into the look of publicity materials, and applied its touch to the packaging of the object and to its display in the store. The cheapest way to gloss an item was by wrapping it in cellophane or polythene.[94] ICI’s packaging film, branded VisQueen, added “Glamour to Garments, making them look glossier and more luxurious.”[95] Perspex turned plastics into “the Glamour Material of Display”.[96]

The Australian Hardware Journal announced that “’Fibrolite’ Homes Move into the Glamour Class” with a coat of PVA paint. That glamourising agent was itself glamourised when Berger Breeze in 1965 gave the “miracle” additive in its latest paint the “glamour name LOXON 303”. [97]

If shoppers had expected the quality of goods to return to pre-1940 standards once productivity gains had re-established a “buyers’ market”, they were at first disappointed and afterwards distracted by new selling methods for novelties made from synthetics. To absorb the redefinition of genuine, of value-for-money and of pleasing, Australians had to be taught to abandon their identification of artificial with second-rate.[98] The failure of plastics to live up to the promises of their marketers impeded that change in evaluation. Production capacities and economic conditions governed the pace of the shift in sensibilities about plastics as much as did promotional budgets.[99]

The Age of Plastics
The March 1930 issue of Fortune announced the “Plastics Age”. Since 1914, the value of the plastics materials had grown by a factor of fifteen. Executives expected their industry “to rank with steel in two decades”.[100] Plastics materials provide one path to examine the interactions of technology, commerce and culture that linked Modernism in the arts with the modernisation of the economy and society.

Methods of production can impede consumer acceptance. For instance, the lack of control in manufacturing delayed the adoption of kitchenware made from plastics materials. Their colours were fast only if the appropriate ingredients had been formed in the correct way. Elsewhere, dyes from bottle tops bled into consumable liquids, while the packaging of food in coloured plastics gave rise to a rash of concerns.[101] Hence, to map the coming to Australia of the Age of Plastics requires paying attention to the chemistry of colour, to marketing and to popular responses.[102]

Solid colour did not become possible in plastics until chemists could attach a colour molecule to each plastics molecule so that the colour would not scratch off, peel or bleed. The addition of pigments or dyes to resins was complicated by how each colouring agent reacted with base components. The plastics manufacturers had inherited colouring agents that had been designed for textiles, printing and paints. In need of paints specific to automobiles, Du Pont developed Duco throughout the 1920s, eventually replacing its nitro-cellulose resin with synthetics to ensure consistent colours.[103]

By 1949, some fabric firms had produced dyes specifically for rayons. Even with those aids, the technicians in charge of colouring plastics had to cope with day-to-day conditions, such as the weather, or the availability of raw materials. Post-war shortages encouraged manufacturers to substitute powders suitable for one method to another. As a result, throughout the 1950s, the search for consistency was “still largely in the pioneering stage.”[104]

Understanding the manufacture of plastics, along with their social-cultural consequences, is invaluable for any account of the modernisation of everyday life in Australia. Plastics materials carried the explosion of colours after 1945. Before then, most of the plastics materials in use had been out of sight, or not recognised for what they were made from.[105] Many were brown or black. Once plastics replaced linseed oil as the carrying agent in house paints in the early 1950s, the hardware industry chorused “Don’t sell paint, sell colour.” Shortly afterwards, its slogan became “Plastics are Paints and Paint is Plastics”.[106] Yet, the glossy surfaces and sharp colours associated with plastics made it harder for buyers to shed their suspicions that the new products were surrogates, if not shoddy.

Faced with new materials, customers discriminated between products that appealed because they were the latest emblem of progress and those that betrayed the tawdriness of a synthetic. A store buyer reported in 1947 on the unpopularity of “the ‘calf’ finish on plastics for handbags. Women, they say, think it looks too much like ‘imitation leather’ and the well-dressed woman feels it is perhaps too ordinary.”[107] At the same time, the fashion-conscious shopper welcomed clothing that was unashamedly from plastics, for instance, cheap translucent vinyl raincoats, buying more than one pastel shade to match different outfits.[108]

Although businesses sold plastics with the promise that the colour would not scratch off, fading and mismatches recurred.[109] Polystyrene turned yellow in sunlight. Many of the clear tints needed for Perspex could not survive the production processes. The popularity of polythene was in inverse proportions to the range of colours that it could carry. As late as 1964, some colouring agents migrated to the surface and rubbed off.[110]

Because of inconsistent colours and uncertain properties, plastics became the epitome of the shoddy. Australian Plastics in 1947 reprinted a U.K. article on synthetic fabrics as “Rubbish”.[111] In 1951, a speaker on the BBC denounced them as “beastly … contriving”.[112] Looking back that year on the post-war era of shortages, Australian Plastics admitted that the public had

bought riveted plastic baby harnesses which ripped apart, plastic patent handbags which lifted varnish from the counter, belts which stretched to ridiculous lengths, circular trays that warped and therefore wobbled, fountain pen casing that cracked at the slightest pressure – and suddenly people stopped buying … people were inclined to judge all plastics by the poor quality of these products.[113]

The reputation of plastics for inferiority and unreliability persisted. A 1953 editorial confessed that “the Plastics Industry has created and is developing an anti-plastics consumer reaction … most marked by the opposition of many housewives to the use of plastic household utensils”. Many items were said to “lack finish”. More remarkably, “too many manufacturers fabricate plastic articles from the wrong base material.”[114] Not until 1963 did the industry feel confident that the public looked on its products as other than poor substitutes.[115]

As early as 1949, Australian Plastics regretted that plastics materials had been over-rated by “years of ‘glamour’ misreporting.”[116] Yet few industries remained more involved in self-glamourisation than plastics. Beutron introduced pearl-like buttons as “Glamour Types”.[117] Marketers announced polystyrene as the “‘general maid’ of the plastics domestic staff. You will find it in your ‘glamour’ kitchen.”[118]

Copy writers supplied traders with the phrases to make the substitutes sound more genuine than the real things. Du Pont, for example, introduced Nylon as “Art Silk”. That term deflected attention from the newcomer’s being a substitute for silk towards the thought that an artificial was more aesthetic than the natural alternative.[119]

Coloured plastics promised to add “glamour” to spectacle frames where metal or bakelite had blighted feminine charm. Before the war, importers had stocked perhaps six styles of frame, while an optician held only three. In the late 1940s, society women were buying more than one pair, donning black or white for “evening ensembles”. By 1953, a few Melbourne women were wearing spectacle frames

tinselled and in some few cases studded with semi-precious stones. This may mean that a new European vogue is arriving. For some time, France and Italy have been putting glamour into spectacles to good appearance (and business) effect.[120]

Decorated sunglasses soon came in pastel shades.[121] By 1956, styles were turning over annually, a blessing for jewellers.[122]

Jewel box
Jewellers and watchmakers typified small business with its ethos of individualism and penchant for fixing prices. They defined their stock by its quality: Swiss watches, Waterman pens, Crown Derby China, Waterford crystal and Irish linen. More Australians purchased these items than collected oil paintings. The proprietors saw themselves as craftsmen who could design jewellery and repair intricate mechanisms. Their livelihood depended on the trust of repeat customers who appreciated value more than a bargain, and sought service rather than speed. Snobbery was at a premium on both sides of the counter.

As purveyors of quality merchandise, jewellers held a lien over the Good, the True and the Beautiful, despising the shoddy, resisting Jazz and chic as the standardised mass, and even holding aloof from glamour. Nonetheless, needs must. High-mindedness could not outlast the drop of sales during the 1930s depression. Instead of disparaging imitations as “shoddy”, jewellers dignified “artificial” items with the appellation “costume”,[123] a near-homonym for “custom”, which had required the creative setting of precious stones. The copy-writers were turning diamantes into diamonds, paste into pearls. This dodge could sustain turnover but did not bring in the same rate of profit as had selling the real thing.

The August 1946 issue of the Commonwealth Jeweller and Watchmaker had welcomed plastics as a medium for artists but denounced jewellery fashioned from plastics as “Barbaric Baubees”.[124] A columnist praised busts made out of plastics and “in colours ranging through ruby, emerald green, pale lemon and amber”. These prototypes from a manufacturing jeweller were “an achievement that may be of the front rank importance in the history both of art and jewellery manufacture”. Expensive “figurines of Egyptian influence” represented “fascinating possibilities in modernistic decoration and, to the artist, a new range in dynamics.”[125] Such artworks promised an expansion of skill and sales. Jewellery out of plastics threatened both.[126]

The gentility of the jewellers’ trade was to suffer worse indignities. After the Chifley Labor government appointed one its own, Bill McKell, as the King’s man, the Commonwealth Jeweller and Watchmaker had all its prejudices confirmed by the Governor-General designate who, instead of using the traditional quill, pulled a fountain pen from his suit pocket to sign the Oath of Office.[127] At least he did not use a ballpoint.

Before long, Biros were displacing fountain pens, to be sold at newsagencies by the fistful.[128] The well-off began to discard cheaper watches and fountain pens instead bringing them back for servicing, which could cost more than a replacement. Advertisements for Gaytime’s Diamante tiaras and “Mother” broaches, Australiana spoons, Mexicana ceramics and poker-worked mulga were taking up more shelf space and paying for most of the pages in the Commonwealth Jeweller and Watchmaker. Bone china and crystal faced competition from plastics and then Noritake.[129]

Colour deepened the challenge from alternatives to traditional stocks.[130] Imitation pearls in green, blue, coffee and gunmetal tones became popular during1949.[131] That year, the Commonwealth Jeweller and Watchmaker condemned a “craze” for “jazz crockery”, with its “streaks of forked lightning … emblazoned in chrome.”[132] The Director of the National Jewellers’ Association reported on British trends for 1950:

Colour is the key to many of the most exciting and widespread trends in jewel fashions in Britain to-day…. This all for colour, with its consequent demand for semi-precious stones, is not confined to any particular piece of jewellery or style.

The appeal of colour boosted a demand for reproductions of Eighteenth-century parures “in silver and coloured and white ‘diamond-set’ paste”.[133] This combination of costume jewellery with replicas made from synthetic materials precipitated a reappraisal of the value of the modern among the trade, and a reaction against its acceptance.

One Melbourne jeweller drew comfort from the demand for “the cheaper costume jewellery” by arguing that its buyers “have uncovered a new market”:

they certainly have not reduced demand for the quality products upon which Australian manufacturers have specialised … These cheaper, imported lines look what they are: bright and showy, cute and attractive – but cheap. Those who wear them do not pretend they are real! This jewellery is not even imitation jewellery. It is a thing on its own. Imitation jewellery suggests that there may be some doubt as to whether it is real or only looks like being real.

Then again, quite a lot of people who own valuable jewellery are buying and wearing these cheap, shiny, pretty pieces for “Knock about” use, when they would never in any circumstances be wearing their valuable jewellery. This cheaper costume jewellery has caught the feminine fancy because it is “amusing”.

Such broaches are truly the toys of the jewellery world – certainly not a serious substitute for the real thing.[134]

The grain of truth in that conclusion could not reverse the redirection of merchandising towards glamourising the synthetic. Plastic were media for the reeducation of taste

As more people acquired greater discretionary income, they did not adopt the spending patterns of the pre-1940 well-to-do. Customers had new demands on their funds from purchasing white goods and motor cars. They were also more reluctant to wait. Jewellery had been a cash business, with even lay-bys frowned on. In 1953, a spokesman for the jewellers observed that they and their traditional clients agreed that Time Payment was “degrading”.[135] Another columnist argued that hire purchase “would definitely lower the prestige and status of the watchmaker and jeweller in the eyes of the public.” He advocated the “more British and conservative methods of pay as you buy”.[136] The fear was that hire purchase would associate jewellers with pawnbrokers.[137] Still, coded anti-Semitism sold no diamonds. The trade had to accept that credit encouraged higher-priced purchases, for example, sterling silver rather than EPNS.[138]

Some jewellers went on hoping for the return of a clientele who could afford the full price in advance, and in cash, preferably guineas.[139] They held that credit doubly devalued money, first, by stimulating inflation and, secondly, by detaching its purchasing power from the morality of thrift and hard work. This band of craftsmen saw themselves as a redoubt for the good, the true and the beautiful, in revolt against the mass.

To overcome consumer resistance to the shoddy, marketers inscribed a vocabulary of taste for their age of standardised production and mass consumption. While the Soviets were politicising aesthetics and the Nazis aestheticising politics, the marketers went one better by aestheticising commerce and commodifying aesthetics.[140] One consequence of this double blinding has been to allow intellectuals to intensify the distaste that so many of them harbour towards the domain of production, even as a field of inquiry. To be reminded of its significance is to be confronted by the fact that they live, like rentiers, off its surplus.[141]

Marketers refurbished “the Good” and “the True” by attaching them to gold and to advertising. A similar treatment could not allow “The Beautiful” to fulfill its role. “The beautiful” was more important than the other pair because the appeal of the mass market was to the look of commodities, not to their intrinsic properties. Hence, “the Beautiful” was displaced by “glamour”.

Shifts in the meaning of certain words calibrate the pace and direction of broader change. Qualitative developments are registered in those accretions.[142] The etymology of no single word will unlock the transformation of a social order. Rather, neologisms cluster around clichés to carry that burden.

The planned obsolescence of commodities that is required to spur the expansion of capital has been matched by the speed at which the terms deployed to promote consumption have been discarded. “Glamour” proved exceptional in being recycled. Most sales talk gets trashed.

[1] The article draws on the trade and professional press for more than its lodes of information. Those publications gave a voice to small business people and to the self-employed. The journals thus contributed a strand to the “public sphere”, one which David Carter has not noticed in his prospectus for a study of magazines, David Carter, “Notes towards a History of Australian Periodical Publication 1920-1970”, A. Bartlett, R. Dixon and C. Lee (eds), Australian Literature and the Public Sphere, Association for the Study of Australian Literature, Toowoomba, (1999), pp. 69-79; “Magazine History”, Media International Australia, 99, (2001), pp. 9-14. Attention to the trade press also shows that the “middle class” was not as “forgotten” as R. G. Menzies claimed in 1942. In adopting the Menzies framework, Judith Brett missed the social practices that located her subjects in a situation which she could do no better than to call “middle class”. Had she examined the trade papers she would have encountered the price-fixing and swindling that underpinned the individualism and morality of her gentlefolk. Contrary to her conclusions, her subjects envied the solidarity of trade unionists, and hoped to mimic their power in trade associations, as Adam Smith had predicted. Judith Brett, Australian liberals and the moral middle class, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 2003.
[2] Michael Lebowitz, “Capital and the production of needs”, Science and Society, 41 (4), Winter 1977-78, pp. 430-47.
[3] These processes are examined in my The Essence of Capitalism, Sceptre, Sydney, 2001.
[4] Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, Illuminations, Fontana, London, 1973, pp. 219-253.
[5] Quoted by Dirk J. Struik, Yankee Science in the Making, Collier Books, New York, 1962, p. 186. For an obituary of this Dutch-U.S. American Marxist see Isis, 93 (3), September 2002, pp. 456-9.

[6] James R. Beniger, The Control Revolution, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1986; Geoffrey Bowker and Susan Leigh Star, Sorting Things Out, Classification and Its Consequences, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1999; Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1981; “Standards in Industry”, Special Issue, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 137, May 1928; Commercial Standards (Washington), from 1918. For Australian efforts see Commercial Standards ( Sydney), 1931, unpaginated; W. I. Stewart, National standards and their impact on Australia, 1922-1980, Standards Association of Australia, Sydney, 1980; Jan Todd, For good measure: the making of Australia’s measurement system, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, 2004; Winton Higgins, Engine of Change: Standards Australia since 1922, Brandl & Schlesinger, Blackheath, 2005, pp. 1-61.

Any account of the implementation of standardisation must proceed in tandem with an interrogation of the resistance that it provoked. Redressing the want of attention that has been paid to standardisation in surveys of Modernism in the arts has to include those countervailing mentalities. Joan Campbell, The German Werkbund, The Politics of Reform in the Applied Arts, Princeton University Press, NJ, 1978, pp. 57-69, 83, 161 & 177; see also  her Joy in Work, German Work, The National Debate, 1800-1945, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1989; Jeffrey Herf, Reactionary modernism: technology, culture, and politics in Weimar and the Third Reich, Cambridge University, Cambridge, 1984.

[7] Terry Smith, Making the modern: industry, art and design in America, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1993, mentions standardisation only in relation to the automobile on page 365
[8] For the application of this truth to the built environment see Linda Clarke, Building Capitalism, Routledge, London, 1992.
[9] Labour History, 61, May 1991, pp. 57-69; Linley Batterham, “Laundry Work: a soap and water trade”, Papers in Labour History (Perth), 21, January/February 1999, pp. 26-37.
[10] Nathan Rosenberg, “Technological Change in the Machine Tool Industry, 1840-1910”, Journal of Economic History, 23 (4), December 1963, pp. 414-43.

[11] “The Importance of Appearance in Machine Design”, Mechanical and Welding Engineer, September 1930, p. 315.
[12] “Glamour” does not appear as a subject, or a main entry or as sub-heading in the index to Michael Kelly (ed.), Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, Four volumes, Oxford University Press, 1998. There is an essay on Kitsch.
[13] Kim Humphrey, Shelf Life, Supermarkets and the Changing Cultures of Consumption, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1998, p. 157. As Humphrey prepared his doctoral thesis for publication, he recognised: “The more that was being published on the subject, the less, it seemed, was being said.” (p. 10).
[14] Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1970, pp.  64-187.
[15] Pierre Vilar, History of Money and Gold, 1450-1920, NLB, London, 1976; Karl Marx, Capital, I, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1976, pp. 188-244; Suzanne de Brunhoff, Marx on Money, Urizen Books, New York, 1976. Gold remains a currency of flight when all other trust has been lost, Peter Cochrane, “Gold: The Durability of a Barbarous Relic”, Science and Society, 44 (4), Winter 1980-81, pp. 385-400.

[16] A confidant of finance-capitalists, R. G. Menzies, M.L.A., won “loud applause” when he assured the audience at a Pleasant Sunday Afternoon in May 1931 that “[i]f Australia were to get through her troubles by abating or abandoning traditional British standards of honesty, or justice, of fair play, of resolute endeavour, it would be far better that every citizen within her boundaries should die of starvation within the next six months”, Argus, 4 May 1931, p. 6e.
[17] Quoted David Noble, America by Design, Science, technology, and the rise of corporate capitalism, Knopf, New York, 1977, p. 75; see also Arno Linklater, Measuring America, HarperCollins, London, 2003.
[18] Quoted David Kynaston, The City of London, volume III, Illusions of Gold, 1914-1945, Chatto & Windus, London, 1999, p. 114.
[19] Building and Construction (B&C), 16 November 1928, pp. 3-4.
[20] A. G. Price, The Menace of Inflation, Preece, Adelaide, 1931, pp. 26-27.

[21] Michael McKiernan, Australian Churches at War, 1914-18, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1980; for a secular statement about the war as a moral purifier, see Professor S. H. E. Barraclough, Australasian Engineer, 25 October 1915, pp. 3-9.
[22] See my “Spanish Influenza Pandemic in Australia, 1918-19”, Jill Roe (ed.), Social Policy in Australia, Cassell, Sydney, 1976, pp. 131-47.
[23] See my “‘Shoot the Bolshevik’, ‘Hang the Profiteer’”, E. L Wheelwright and Ken Buckley (eds), Essays in the Political Economy of Australian Capitalism, ANZ Books, Sydney, 1978, pp. 185-206.
[24] Wall Street Journal, 6 May 1921, p. 1.
[25] Edward E. Scharff, Worldly Power, The Making of the Wall Street Journal, Plume, New York, 1987, p. 38.

[26] Kathleen W. Jones, “Mother’s Day: The Creation, Promotion and Meaning of a New Holiday in the Progressive Era”, Texas Studies in Language and Literature, 22 (2), Summer 1980, pp. 175-96.
[27] See my article on Fathers Day, Bulletin, 7 September 1999, pp. 48-49.  
[28] Shopping as a religious exercise has attracted academic apologists and critics, see T. J. Jackson Lears, “From Salvation to Self-Realisation. Advertising and the Therapeutic Roots of the Consumer Culture”, Richard Wightman and T. J. Jackson Lears (eds), Culture of consumption: critical essays in American history, 1880-1980, Pantheon, New York, 1983, pp. 1-38; Daniel Horowitz, The Morality of Spending, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1985; Thomas B. Twitchell declared total surrender in Lead Us Into Temptation, The Triumph of American Materialism, Columbia University Press, New York, 1999.
[29] Commonwealth Jeweller and Watchmaker (CJW), September 1954, p. 188; March 1957, A9.
[30] Raymond Williams, Problems in Materialism and Culture, Verso, London, 1997, p. 185.

[31] In Australian slang, “shoddy droppers” were Afghan traders hawking low-priced clothes. That connection crossed over to Japanese piece goods and toys. To promote local manufactures, Australian unionists used “shoddy” as an accusation against “importations from Europe”, Australian National Dictionary, OUP, Melbourne, 1988, p. 586; Australian Trades and Labour Journal, 17 August 1889, p. 2.
[32] Australasian Footwear, June 1918, p. 178.
[33] Decorator and Painter (D&P), December 1928, pp. 62-63.
[34] B&C, 21 October 1929, p. 3. In 1964, jerry builders were still being dismissed as “shoddy”, Queensland Master Builder, 26 March 1964, p. 10.
[35] Meanjin Papers, 1 (8), March 1942, p. 8.

[36] Australasian Leather Trades Review, 18 June 1947, p. 203.
[37] Bulletin, 14 February 1951, p. 6.
[38] Michael Schudson, Discovering the News, A social history of American Newspapers, Basic Books, New York, 1978.
[39] David Ogilvy, Confessions of an Advertising Man, Athenaeum, New York, 1963, p. 158.
[40] Newspaper News (NN), August 1928, p. 17; September 1928, p. 4; December 1928, p. 11.

[41] NN, October 1928, p. 7.
The Press barons, for their part, remained reluctant to tell the truth about their circulations, the basis on which they charged advertisers, who pressured them to accept an independent Audit Bureau, NN, November 1930, p. 1, and April 1931, pp. ii-iii; Advertiser’s Monthly, April 1929, p. 3. Advertising agencies pretended to an exactness of their own by calibrating the attention span of audiences, see W. A. McNair, Radio Advertising in Australia, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1937.
[42] Advertiser’s Monthly, April 1929, p. 19. An anonymous defender of using paintings for promotional purposes prefigured Benjamin’s thesis: “In days when … methods of reproduction were crude, the risk of abuse might be held to be so great that the use of great artists for advertising purposes could only be condemned. But, today the mechanical methods of reproduction are so perfect that … a work of art need not suffer at all in reproduction”, Advertiser’s Monthly, July 1929, p. 11.
The association of fine art with advertising also drew on the number of painters who were earning their crust from commercial work. In Australia, the Ford Motor Company hired Sydney Ure Smith, Thea Proctor and George Lambert to devise colour schemes, Art in Australia, 30, December 1929; in March 1930, the Ford advertisement in Art in Australia first mentioned colour as an attraction; see also Jan Todd, “Cars, paint and chemicals: industry linkages and the capture of overseas technology between the wars”, Australian Economic History Review, 38 (2), July 1998, pp. 176-93.
[43] NN, Supplement, April 1931, p. i.
[44] Australian Advertisers Convention, Report, 1918, p. 56.
[45] Australasian Advertisers’ Manual and Newspaper Directory, Sydney, 1923, p. 45.

[46] For documentation of the advertisers’ efforts see Robert Crawford, “‘Truth in Advertising’: the impossible dream”, MIA, 119, May 2006, pp. 124-37.
[47] Architecture and Building Journal of Queensland (ABJQ), June 1935, pp. 6 & 36.
[48] Adrian Forty, Objects of Desire, Thames & Hudson, London, 1986, pp. 200-6.
[49] Commonwealth Home, 23 October 1925, p. 3; it is significant that the complainant did not use “synthetic”.
[50] Australian Wool Bureau, Report, 1954, p. 7; “Editorial”, Australian Plastics (AP), August 1951, p. 7.

[51] Wool Review, 1958-59, p. 9.
[52] Oxford English Dictionary, IV, 1933, p. 198; Supplement, 1972, I, p. 1237; Simon During mentions “glamour” but does not explore the commercial elements in Modern Enchantments, The Cultural Power of Secular Magic, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2002, pp. 40-41, cf. p. 26.
[53] Siegfried Kracauer, “The Mass Ornament”, The Mass Ornament, Weimar Essays, Harvard University Press, 1995, pp. 75-86; in The Salaried Masses, Duty and Distraction in Weimar Germany, (Verso, London, 1998) Kracauer explored “glanz” as one of the commercial distractions from the miseries of domestic life, or in the words of the essay’s title “Shelter for the homeless”,  pp. 88-95. Sixty years later, the translator used “glamour” for “glanz”, rather than shiny or lustrous. The translations of glamour include “zauber”, which brings it closer to magic.
Benjamin saw that “[t]he cult of the movie star, fostered by the money of the film industry, preserves not the unique aura of the person but the ‘spell of the personality’, the phony spell of a commodity.” p. 233.
[54] In a chapter on “Machines and Markets”, Jill Julius Matthews devoted one section to “The Strategy of Glamour”  in which she discussed the selling of cinema-going as a glamourous activity; through charity balls and opening nights, “the industry publicists developed a long-term strategy that brought together the extremes of the contemporary moral spectrum: consumerism and philanthropy or service. The result was glamourous charity [which] worked for the benefit of the whole commercial sector” - fashion, make-up , hairstyles and music, Dance Hall and Picture Palace Sydney’s Romance with Modernity, Currency Press, Sydney, 2005, pp. 133 & 138.
[55] W. F. Haug, Critique of Commodity Aesthetics, Polity, Cambridge, 1983.
A Brisbane marketing agency accepted that glamour sold by calling itself Glamor Ad Pty Ltd. Broadcasting and Television (B&T), 28 March 1968, p. 27. This trade journal changed its title several times. I shall stay with B&T.

[56] Gibsonia Gazette (Perth), December 1928, p. 11; February 1929, p. 5; October 1929, p. 18.
[57] Graeme Davison, Car Wars, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2004, p. 1.
[58] Australian Womens Weekly (AWW), 28 June 1961, p. 37. Raymond Williams had just discussed advertising as “The ‘Magic’ System”.
[59] Alexandra Oliver, The Australian Home Beautiful, Home Beautiful, Sydney, 1999, p. 150; AHB, October 1922, p. 74; Matthews noted that Jazz in the city “became a central metaphor for its modernity”, Dance Hall and Picture Palace, p. 30.
[60] D&P, August 1929, p. 307.

[61] D&P, October 1928, p. 2.
[62] Australian Home, 24 April 1925, p. 4.
[63] B&C, 15 June 1926, p. 11.
[64] D&P, July 1929, p. 280.
J. M. Freeland condemned a Moderne or Jazz architecture as “the result of cinema and pure mindlessness”, Architecture in Australia, Penguin, Richmond, 1972, pp. 258-59. Robin Boyd recalled that “[e]ven the rakish jazz-moderne of the pre-war milk bar and picture palace was never a painted style. It indulged in colour only in the neon tubes”, Australian Ugliness, Penguin, Ringwood, 1961 edition, p. 29.
[65] ABJQ, May 1927, p. 29.

[66] D&P, October 1926, p. 2.
[67] NN, July 1936, p. 9.
[68] John Potts, Radio in Australia, NSWUPress, Sydney, 1989, pp. 87-91. Beverley Kingston discussed glamour in terms of film stars as trend setters rather than their role in the publicity for existing products which sold the promise of glamour. She adopted this approach despite having set glamour against the drudgery of housework and factory jobs, My Wife, My Daughter and Poor Mary Ann, Women and work in Australia, (Nelson, Melbourne, 1975), pp. 112 & 133-34.
[69] According to a Newcastle announcer, this glamour would have been lost “If Listeners Saw Behind the Scenes” where actresses chewed gum, Broadcasting Business, 9 January 1936, p. 6.
[70] Investigating Berlin shop assistants in 1929, Siegfried Kracauer interviewed a personnel manager who, when selecting staff, “attached most importance to a pleasant appearance”. Pressed to define “pleasant”, he replied that the applicant’s look should be “pink with an undercoat of morality”. The importance alloted to personality tests puzzled Kracauer given that so few employees carried out “activities requiring any personality”. He decided that personnel managers “wanted to cover life with a vanish concealing its far-from-rosy reality”, The Salaried Masses, pp. 38 and 35.
Carol S. Gould concluded that glamour “does not consist in attributes that can be added to or taken from a person’s exterior self, rather, glamour radiates from the complexity of an  human character as a particular expression of imagination and personal uniqueness”. By assuming that imagination and personality are immanent, Gould offered a false dichotomy since the expression of traits in one’s “choice” of clothes and makeup into an ensemble of socialised fashions reshapes character, “Glamour as an Aesthetic Property of Persons”, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 63 (3), Summer 2005, p. 246.

[71] NN, November 1939, p. 7.
[72] Australian Plastics (AP), September 1951, p. 59.
[73] AP, October 1947, pp. 16-17 & 19, July 1948, p. 31.
[74] McQueen, The Essence of Capitalism, chapter eight.
[75] Radiator, 15 June 1949, quoted by Davison, Car Wars, p. 7.

[76] Australian Monthly Motor Magazine, May 1952, p. 160; November 1953, p. 519; Wheels, September 1958, p. 58.
[77] see my “That Magic World ‘Colour’”, Swing Time, East Coast, West Coast, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, pp. 10-14.
[78] Practical Plastics, June-July 1953, cover; four years earlier, the same format had “Beauty in the Bathroom” as its caption for a six-year-old “darling of dimpled depravity” wrapped in a towel, as one more instance of corporate pedophilia, Australian Plastics, March 1949, p. 35.
[79] This accusation did not apply to the Dare advertising. Its designers could be accused of presenting the model in a semi-recumbent posture which can be read as availability; it is hard to see how else she could have been positioned in an eight-page foldout.
[80] B&T, 8 August 1968, p. 1.
The coded message can work in both directions. Seeing the image of a girl draped over a tractor can make the viewer covet the machinery. To point up the ways in which the human form in an advertisement legitimates a desire for congress with the inanimate object, Richard Simon married commodity with sodomy to coin “commodomy”, “Advertising as Literature: the Utopian Fiction of the Modern Marketplace”, Texas Studies in Language and Literature, 22 (2), Summer 1980, pp. 162-64.
According to Haug: “The suppression of instincts plus the simultaneous illusory satisfaction of instincts tend towards a general sexualization of the human condition … The response of the commodities is to reflect sexual images from all sides. Here it is not the sexual object which takes on the commodity form, but the tendency of all objects of use in commodity-form to assume a sexual form to some extent. That is, the sensual need and the means by which it is satisfied are rendered non-specific”. (p. 55)

[81] B&T, 8 September 1966, p. 20.
Heinz followed suit in 1967 to glamourise its tinned soups by spending $7,000 on the set alone. Television stars and media personalities - Bobby Limb, Don Lane, Graham Kennedy and June Bronhill - identified as 'The Soup Set”, donned evening attire around a feast. B&T, 18 May 1967, p. 41.
[82] B&T, 21 September 1961, p. 20. The Managing-Director and Chairman of Marrickville Holdings was Richard Crebbin, a collector of contemporary art, who chaired the Council of the Australian National Gallery from 1974 to 1982.
[83]  B&T, 6 April 1967, p. 4, 11 August 1966, p. 1 & 15 June 1967, p. 5.
[84]  B&T, 15 June 1967, p. 26.
Roger Fry had recognized that the marketers had improved the chromatic sensibility of the populace by making them tell the difference between butter and margarine, Vision and Design, Pelican, Harmondsworth, 1937, p. 47.
[85] B&T, 11 June 1970, p. 15.

[86] B&T, 17 September 1964, p. 16; “it was quite common to serve it with an ice cream scoop”.
[87]  Draper of Australia (DofA), 10 October 1963, p. 11.
Marketers demanded more colour printing of a higher quality. Consumer surveys indicated that full-page full-colour advertisements gained the attention of 60 per cent of magazine readers, see a thirty-five page feature on “Colour in Advertising”, B&T, 30 April 1970.The Woman’s Day in 1964 introduced State editions so that firms could launch products regionally in color. Although the Australian Women’s Weekly (AWW) had included full colour pages from December 1936, its printers had problems with registration until the installation of electronic eyes in the late 1960s, B&T, 21 January 1965, p. 12; for an account from inside the printery, see AWW, 12 December 1936, p. 9.
[88] Advertising & Marketing, December 1961, pp. 20-21. Hickory’s campaign, down to its choice of “Dare”, illustrated Adorno’s perception of the fate of the erotic in the culture industry:  “Works of art are ascetic and unashamed; the culture industry is pornographic and prudish. Love is downgraded to romance. And, after the descent, much is permitted; even license as a marketable specialty has its quota bearing the trade description “daring”. The mass production of the sexual automatically achieves its repression,” Dialectic of Enlightenment, Allen Lane, London, 1973, p. 140.
[89] Thomas Frank, The Conquest of Cool, University of Chicago Press. Chicago, 1997.
[90] Quoted Current Affairs Bulletin, 40 (3), 19 June 1967, p. 29.

[91] For the importance of turnover times in the expansion of capitals see my “Making Capitals Tick”, Overland, 170, March 2003, pp. 92-101.
[92] B&T, 21 January 1965, p. 12.
[93] The “Dare” campaign had to be in the Women’s Weekly because, while Vogue Australia had begun in the early 1950s, no large circulation glossy was available to marketers until around 1970. By then, women were in pantyhose and mini-skirts, not corsets.
For Dolly see R. A. Layton, (ed.), Australian Marketing Projects, 1971, Hoover Awards for Marketing, Sydney 1972, pp. 5-32, and Kathy Bail, Annabelle Murray-Smith and Judith Shaw “Dolly: A girl Like Who? A Reading of Dolly Magazine”, Melbourne Journal of Politics, 17, 1985-86, pp. 85-109; for Cleo see my Gone Tomorrow, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1982, pp. 136-38; for POL, see my article, Bulletin, 18 March 2003, p. 84.
[94] Practical Plastics, October 1954, pp. 24-25.
[95] DofA, 10 March 1962, p. 4.

[96] Advertising, April 1961, pp. 20-21.
[97] Australian Hardware Journal, June 1957, p. 70; B&T, 23 September 1965, p. 10.
[98] Nestle’s instant was a step up from the bottled chicory that most Australians had thought of as coffee.
[99] A. R. G. Prowse, “The Plastics Products Industry”, Alex Hunter (ed.), The Economics of Australian Industry, MUP, Carlton, 1965 edition, pp. 333-356; Tim Hewat, The plastics revolution: the story of Nylex, Macmillan, South Melbourne, 1983, pp. 21, 23 and 39; Australia, Parliamentary Papers, 1929-31, III, pp. 2586-87.
[100] Fortune, March 1930, p. 82 & 118; the author suggested that the unbreakable nature of Beetle-brand crockery made it suitable for lunatic asylums.

[101] AP, June 1949, p. 59; F. Bryant, Proceedings, Plastics Convention, 1964, no pagination.
[102] Technology in Australia, 1788-1988: a condensed history of Australian technological innovation and adaptation during the first two hundred years, Australian Academy of Technlogical Science and Engineering, Melbourne, 1988, pp. 671-714; V. E. Yarsley and E. G. Cousins, Plastics, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1940, pp. 53-54; Lothian House in Melbourne published an Australian edition in November 1942.
[103] Alfred P. Sloan, Jr, My Years with General Motors, Anchor, New York, 1972, pp. 273-74; Australasian Engineer, 7 November 1941, p. 32.
Du Pont Corporation underwent a glamourisation of its own in the 1930s. The du Ponts had made their nineteenth-century fortune from gunpowder before extending to powders for plastics. After Congressional hearings in 1934 revived the firm’s reputation as a merchant of death, a public relations campaign equated the corporation with “style” and “progress” in promoting plastics as the herald of a new civilization, Jeffrey L. Meikle, American Plastic, a cultural history, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, 1997, pp. 133-34.
[104] AP, November 1946, pp. 27-30; May 1947, p. 45; June 1949, pp. 21-25 and 56-60.
[105] Wiebe E. Bijker, Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs, Towards a Theory of Sociotechnical Change, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1995, p. 189.

[106] Hardware Journal, August 1957, p. 26, September 1964, p. 36.
[107] AP, October 1947, p. 17.
[108] AP, April 1950, p. 18.
[109] AP, July 1947, p. 50.
[110] Proceedings, Plastics Convention, 1964, no pagination.

[111] AP, February 1947, p. 19.
[112] AP, March 1951, p. 47.
[113] AP, September 1951, p. 59 Following a plunge in U.S. sales around 1948 resulting from buyer resistance to the unreliability of plastics products, Fortune joined an industry campaign to educate manufacturers, retailers and the public, May 1950, pp. 109ff.
[114] AP, January 1953, p. 5.
[115] Hardware Journal, March 1963, p. 36; November 1965, p. 5.

[116] AP, February 1949, p. 15.
[117] DofA, July 1951, p. 54.
[118] Practical Plastics, July 1957, p. 8.
[119] Susannah Handley, Nylon, The Manmade Fashion Revolution, Bloomsbury, London, 1999,
 pp. 24-27.
[120] CJW, 10 February 1953, p. 155. Custom-made frames came from a Stuttgart workshop, AWW, 5 June 1954, p. 17.

[121] CJW, November 1955, p. 90 and January 1956, p. 9. This change put indenters at risk of being stuck with expensive items.
[122] CJW, January 1956, p. 116. Her tinseled bat-wings did not appear until she approached Damehood.
Mrs Norm Everage stuck to the bland two-tone pairs she had favoured from Moonee Ponds to Highett.
[123] CJW, December 1955, p. 190.
From 1915, two of the larger Sydney firms backed the posh-ist trade monthly in Australia, The Commonwealth Jeweller and Watchmaker. Its paper stock, advertisements and colour illustrations rivalled those of The Home until the depression reduced its size. Unlike The Home, it survived the war to expand.
[124] CJW, August 1946, p. 57.
[125] CJW, August 1946, p. 108.

[126] AWW, 5 June 1954, p. 17.
[127] CJW, May 1947, p. 106.
[128] See my article in Age, Review, 12 July 2003, p. 2.
[129] CJW, August 1954, p. 158; November 1954, p. 156H.
[130] AP, November 1947, p. 27.

[131] CJW, June 1949, p. 158.
[132] CJW, November 1949, p. 116.
[133] CJW, October 1950, p. 170.
[134] CJW, November 1950, p. 112.
[135] CJW, August 1953, pp. 38-39.

[136] CJW, October 1953, p. 98; he further feared that the “floating population of New Australians” would create bad debts: “Imagine the difficulty of trying to keep trace of that particular type of client, the spelling of the names of these people alone constitutes a nightmare”.
[137] CJW, September 1959, p. 132.
[138] CJW, June 1954, p. 182.
[139] CJW, January 1958, p. 40E.
[140] Benjamin, Illuminations, p. 244. The latter aspect is not considered here, but the Duveen-Berenson connection offers a starting point.

[141] See my “Professions of Power”, Tim Bonyhady and Tom Griffiths (eds), Prehistory to Politics, John Mulvaney, the Humanities and the Public Intellectual, MUP, Carlton, 1996, pp. 216-39
[142] V. N. Voloshinov [pseud. M. Bahktin?] Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, Seminar Press, New York, pp. 18-19.

See also: Marxism