Pad of eleven printed unused biscuit tin labels.

The labels were printed in the 1940s for Port Melbourne biscuit manufacturer Swallow & Ariell. They were designed to be glued to the front of large rectangular metal biscuit tins containing Teddy Bear biscuits, used by grocers in the days when biscuits were stored loose and sold to customers, by weight, in brown paper bags. Manufacturers tried to give their product a presence in the grocers by adorning the tins with brightly coloured distinctive labels, such as these.

Swallow & Ariell's Teddy Bear biscuits were sold in direct competition with the Teddy Bear-shaped biscuits produced by another Melbourne biscuit company, Brockhoff's, which are still produced today by Arnotts, although now made in Sydney.

This pad was retained by the donor, who worked at Swallow and Ariell in the 1940s and 1950s.

Physical Description

Rectangular pad of eleven printed biscuit tin labels, each of an identical design, held together by a strip of gum down the left hand side. On the front of each label is printed details about the biscuits and about the manufacturer, as well as a design of a large swallow flying over four biscuits, each decorated with a teddy bear swing on a rope swing above the initials 'S A'. The background is light blue, with two large red bands with yellow edging. The front of each label is glossy, whilst the backs are plain white and matt, to enable them to be glued to a metal biscuit tin.


This pad of labels is significant due to it links to Melbourne biscuit manufacturer Swallow and Ariell.

The following information is largely drawn from eMelbourne (

Swallow's was Australia's first large-scale biscuit manufacturer when it was founded in1854 by Thomas Swallow. His first product was the sea biscuit, so called as it had a long shelf life which made it a staple on long sea voyages. Soon after he had joined forces with Thomas Ariell, and established a factory in Port Melbourne, close to the company's primary market. By the 1880s, the factory extended over three acres, and the company also owned flour mills in the Goulburn Valley and sugar plantations in Northern Queensland. Swallow & Ariell was now the fifth largest biscuit company in the world, manufacturing over 100 varieties, including meat biscuits, which had been taken by Burke and Wills on their ill-fated expedition in the early 1860s. The company also boasted popular sideline products, including cakes, plum puddings, ice-cream and dried fruit. Renowned for its patriotic fund raising campaigns during both world wars, it diverted most of its biscuits and plum puddings to the Australian and US services in World War II.

In 1964, the majority of Australian biscuit manufacturers joined forces, to counteract takeovers from overseas companies such as Nabisco, and formed the Australian Biscuit Company (later Arnott's Biscuits.) The factory closed soon after and, after years of neglect, it received heritage recognition and was converted into apartments in the 1990s.

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