Empty brown glass jar with orange label that originally contained Akta-Vite chocolate drink, made Nicholas Pty Ltd. Akta-Vite, containing vitamins A, B1, C, and D, dextrose and calcium, was marketed as a tonic food, supporting children, expectant and nursing mothers, and those with 'debility'.

Akta-Vite was developed in Melbourne during World War II. The Nicholas Company, makers of Aspro, opened a research department in 1941. The Federal Government asked Nicholas to find a source of Vitamin A since its usual source, cod liver oil, was interrupted when North Atlantic cod fishing was suspended due to the war. Nicholas scientists tested livers of local aquatic species and found that the snapper shark was very rich in Vitamin A and sufficient for commercial quantities. Nicholas shared this information with other Australian manufacturers, and also formed the Nicholas Ethical Division, from which came Akta-Vite, Penta-Vite (liquid vitamin mixture) and Ungvita (a healing ointment). (The Argus, 15 Feb 1943, p.27) Akta-Vite was first advertised in Australian newspapers in 1943. It is still being manufactured in 2015.

This example is likely to date from the first years of production, before a graphic of man and child was used on the label (with new diamond-shaped logo), and well before the circa 1957 introduction of the cardboard cylinder package with tin lid and base.

Used as a prop in the 'House Secrets' exhibition at Scienceworks, 6 March 2006 to 14 July 2013. Most of the props for the exhibition were sourced from opportunity shops in 2002 and 2003 by curator Andi Horvarth and other Museum Victoria staff. 'House Secrets' aimed to 'Explore the science behind all the familiar things in our homes', presenting 'all sorts of wonderful things we might find around the home, from the food we eat, to the appliances we use, to the animals we share our living space with.' The exhibition was 'highly interactive'.

Physical Description

Empty brown glass jar, square sides mitered at corners, with orange label, printed in brown and white text. Text explains vitamin contents, 'indications' such as 'debility' and directions for use. The label has numerous scuffs and losses. The bottle has a dark brown lid with bakelite-like appearance.

More Information

  • Collecting Areas

    Home & Community, Medicine & Health

  • Acquisition Information

    Transfer from Exhibition Collection Management (ECM), Museum Victoria, Dr Andrea Horvath - Museum Victoria, 23 Jun 2003

  • Manufacturer

    Nicholas Pty Ltd, Greater Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, circa 1947-1950

  • Inscriptions

    Printed on label front: 'NETT [sic] / WEIGHT / 10 OZS / NICHOLAS / PRODUCT / NPL / AKTA.VITE / TRADE MARK / NUTRITIVE FOOD TONIC / CONTAINING 4 IMPORTANT / VITAMINS / A B1 C D / Together with dextrose and / calcium in a delicious / chocolate base./... Mixes readily with hot or cold / milk or water. May be added to / cereal, fruit or other dishes / according to taste. / Nicholas Product / NICHOLAS PTY. LTD MELBOURNE. VIC'. On underside of bottle in glass, in reverse: 'L 4 O'.

  • Classification

    Domestic life, Food & drink packaging

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline


  • Type of item


  • References

    An extended, illustrated advertisement for Akta-Vite was published in Advertising. (1957, April 10). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 26. Retrieved August 12, 2015, from [Link 1] A brief overview of the history of Nicholas developments: Pain-relief firm went shark-fishing. (1955, February 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 27. Retrieved August 12, 2015, from [Link 2]

  • Keywords

    Food & Beverages, Containers, World War II, 1939-1945, Museum History