Original release: March 2002
Wow, in depth you say? Well let's say we shall cover the ones that are food containers and are pre 1980 and a very brief history of them instead. I think most of the ones after that have been covered in other various publications. In fact, all this information on Australian glasses was extensively researched years ago and a catalogue created by Reg Munchenberg in 1994.
The first food containers with glass design came in 1938 to celebrate Australia's 150th Anniversary , followed in 1940 by the first of the two Pinocchio series. These 2 sets and the Disneyland set issued in the 1940's were different in design and more importantly were smaller in size than the American sets.
Themes over the years were many and varied, from simple abstract design to intricate. Glass sales were heavy between the years of 1940's to 1970's. The sales were killed in essence as a result of promotions aimed at plastic containers due to safety factors of children with glass. In recent years the promotion of glass has returned and is much more prominent as a factor to help promote the product as was initially intended. This is good news for fellow glass collectors and for companies selling various products, such as Nutella and IXL jelly.
Most of these glasses are referred to as Swanky Swigs, as that was the main form of advertising as well as the most popular style. It got to the point that everyone was calling all food containers Swanky Swigs even though it may have been one of 21 different brand names containing 1 of 28 different food products. The known products is amazing as it ranged from the spreads we are all familiar with to Fish Sauce, Cocktail Onions, Relish and Vegamite. Hmmm, makes one's mouth water just thinking of some of these fine products. In fact, Vegamite by Kraft was what was in all the Pinocchio drinking glasses. Also surprising is that Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck are part of the series labled as Pinocchio. Some of these glasses also came in various colors and sizes.
The next Disney sets to be produced were by Barnes Honey in the 1950's. They came out with a 6 glass set that was one of the most popular promotions. Here you had Disney Characters interacting with each other, all with a Barnes advertisment included. The six are, Mickey and his Nephew, Goofy and Jiminy Cricket, Donald and Mickey Band, Huey Louie and Dewey with Circus elephants, Snow White dwarf Dopey with Uncle Scrooge and nephew, and Big Bad Pete with Thumper. This is the only set I know of with such a wide combination of Disney Characters blended in with each other. As with American sets, some of the other more popular sets include, Olympics, Nursery Rymes, and sports themes. There is even a Alice in Wonderland Tea Party glass and a Snow White glass along with a wide array of sailboats, animals, cards, fruits, vegetables and various other patterns that are the same or similar to the to US Swanky Swigs. These all came in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, providing glass collectors with lots of fun-filled hunting.
The last set I want to mention is a 6 glass Hair Bear set that was put out in 1972 By Hanna Barbera productions. Each one of these glasses comes in at least 2 colors, and at least 2 sizes. This makes for a large combination of glasses to find if you are looking for them all. The 6 glasses are, Bubbi Bear, Hair Bear, Square Bear, Mr Peevly with Botch, Inch High Detective and one with Bubi Bear, Square Bear and Hair Bear all on the same glass. Most people have seen one or two of these appear in the various auctions, yet no information was provided as to where they came from. I hope I have cleared some of that up for you.
Ok, so you still have questions and it wasn't all that in depth. The best source of information over the years on glasses has always been printed ads in magazines. This is where a lot of things can be found out, especially for food containers. Much of the information above has come off of ads in Australia Women's Weekly. This should be no surprise as the audience targeted to purchase these items is women with children. The same is true for older women's publications in the US. They can provide us with a lot of information on glass sets from the past.
The actual ads for these was a rather odd size so I converted it as best I could and added so that you get an idea of some of these early glasses. If you know of some of the early glass advertising for other sets in the US or Canada, let me know and I will be glad to post the information on these as well.
By Brent Sehnert
This site was last updated 11/22/06