Monday, December 11, 2006
It's not too pessimistic to say that we've lost Christmas to consumerism. Even if you're a strict Carthusian with no possessions spending 12 hours a day in solitary prayer, market forces would somehow and someway weedle their increasingly subtle way into your consciousness and hey presto, suddenly you'll find yourself desiring a Sky subscription for your hermitage.
Neither is the commercialisation of the season a new thing. As post-war rationing gradually relaxed we British became nearly as eager to consume and spend as our American cousins. Yet coming across this ravishing 1955 Fortnum & Mason Christmas brochure is the revelation of an infinitely more graceful way to peruse the purchasing of goods than flicking through 2006's blinkin' Argos Catalogue.
The primary reason is Edward Bawden. Yes, we're back to the Saffron Walden sage once again. Fortnum & Mason commissioned Bawden not only to paint the exquisite cover but to contribute the beautiful woodcut style spot illustrations you can see above. Bet those who could afford Fortnum & Mason prices had an absolutely spiffing 1955 Christmas....